Land Pride’s RCR1860 is a 5-foot cutter that appeals to entry-level rural lifestylers for its ability to handle smaller tasks. Rural lifestyle dealers have had success selling Land Pride implements due to a financing partnership with Kubota.
Rotary cutter, brush mower, brush cutter or rotary mower — whatever you call it, this basic property maintenance implement is an important tool for many rural lifestylers.
While its use remains the same for many landowners, regional and weather trends can affect sales and new technologies are spurring interest among rural lifestylers.
Cutters don’t necessarily sell themselves, but the process shouldn’t be complicated. A good product line, attention to weather and local trends, knowledgeable sales staff and attention to customer needs, especially those who are new land owners, can help ensure rotary cutter sales success.
Transitional Sales are Key
Great Plains Kubota has been selling rotary cutters for approximately 10 years and carries the Land Pride and Woods Equipment lines. “If you’ve got land and you need it cleared, you need a rotary cutter,” says Bill Clark, general manager of Great Plains Kubota, which has locations in Ada, Duncan and Shawnee, Okla. “Rural lifestylers are our number 1 customer, people whose dream is to live out in the country.”
For this dealership, selling rotary cutters is just part of selling tractors and mowers. They’ve also found that selling rotary cutters is a stepping stone on the path to long-term customer relationships.
“Most first-time buyers will purchase a cutter when they purchase a tractor. That’s why we’re always running package deals, especially for 5-6 foot cutters with 30-40 horsepower tractors. Sometimes, they’ve owned a cutter and may not have needed one, but it depends on what they’ll do with it. We really try to work with the customer to determine their needs.”
Not only does Great Plains Kubota use new tractor sales as an opportunity to move cutters, they also focus on the next transition in this customer’s rural lifestyle journey.
Eric Schnelle, president of S&H Farm Supply, says the rural lifestyle customers they’ve served over the years are now trading up for larger rotary cutters. However, they are still looking for equipment that is easy to maintain. S&H was Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s 2011 Dealership of the Year.
“More and more people want to do finish mowing rather than rotary or brush mowing. People get their land cleared out and then they want it to look nice. A rotary cutter won’t give as pretty a cut if they want their place to look landscaped. So, they clean up with a rotary cutter at first and then come back with a finish mower,” says Clark.
And where do customers turn when they’re ready for that bigger finish mower? They go right back to Great Plains Kubota.
“We want to be a resource for our customers. There are no dumb questions here. You’d be surprised at how many customers don’t know what a PTO or a 3-point hitch is. We want customers to feel comfortable enough to ask our sales people anything. They’re trained to listen to the customers. We think it’s a big deal. A lot of our customers are first-time buyers. Consequently, we have sequential sales after helping them with a first purchase.”
Another important factor when making transitional sales with potential long-term customers is financing. “For us, the alliance between Kubota and Land Pride is crucial. If Kubota is doing a 0% financing special, for example, they’ll roll a Land Pride implement in with it, with no additional interest charged. That’s huge for us and makes a big impact on rotary cutter sales.”
For Great Plains Kubota, being in the large-scale and rural lifestyle dealer markets has increased sales of cutters during the drought season. “The good thing about being in the 5-6 foot cutter market is that it’s fairly resistant to drought. In other words, customers will still buy, but they’ll only cut several times. We couldn’t give away a 15-foot cutter during drought season.”
When It Rains, It Sells
Unlike his neighbor to the north, Jim Dietert, sales manager for Ewald Tractor, has to keep an eye
Hunters Turning to Rotary Cutters
An increased interest in hunting has led to increased rotary cutter sales in many parts of the country. Rural lifestyle dealers shared their thoughts on the importance of staying up-to-date with hunting trends and needs in their local areas.
“A big deal in our area for rural lifestylers is planting food plots for wildlife. We’ve got a lot of customers starting to clear out areas with rotary cutters,” says Bill Clark, general manager of Great Plains Kubota, which has 3 locations in Oklahoma.
“Food plots are gaining in popularity. The really nice food plot seeders are fairly expensive, so we’re seeing people purchase the cutters, a seeder and a harrow vs. an all-in-one machine,” says Eric Schnelle, president of S&H Farm Supply, which has 4 locations in Missouri.
“We sell quite a few cutters to people with what we call hunting pastures. These are usually the 15-foot models,” says Jim Dietert, sales manager of Ewald Tractor, which has 3 locations in Texas.
to the skies when it comes to cutter sales. Ewald Tractor has locations in Boerne, Floresville and Sequin, Texas. They carry the Rhino and Land Pride lines of cutters.
“Around here, when it rains is when we sell cutters. Spring is our busiest time. If we have a dry spring, we won’t have very good sales. But if we get some rain in October, sales will start picking up again in November,” says Dietert.
Don’t assume that rural lifestylers only purchase smaller models of rotary cutters. Rhino’s TS12 model has gained popularity with those customers who need the versatility of a flex wing cutter, but may not have a tractor large enough to pull 15-foot units.
Lack of moisture doesn’t necessarily mean that rotary cutter sales come to a grinding halt, however. “We still sell some cutters during dry times, but it’s usually with a package, when they know they will need one in the future.”
Contrary to what Clark found with new landowner education, Dietert finds that his Texas customer base is knowledgeable about what they want and need. They come in to the dealership prepared with research they’ve found online.
“Generally, customers know what size of cutter they want, but they want to know everything that’s available to them. They want to know what they’re going to get for their dollar. Everyone sells a cheap cutter and then there are better ones. They usually know what size of cutter they want, but they’ll wonder why one is twice as much as another. Many times, they’re open to a higher price point if you can explain the advantages. But sometimes, they’re not. You just have to be ready for an informed customer base, especially if they’ve done their research.”
Research is important for the dealer to do as well to understand local trends and how they might affect rotary cutter sales.
“Our most popular sizes are our 5-, 6- and 7-foot cutters,” says Dietert. “But we’ve got customers clearing ‘senderos,’ or trails, who are purchasing the 15-foot models, especially those who are working with land used for hunting purposes.” (See the sidebar “Hunters Turning to Rotary Cutters” on page 35.)
In addition to knowing how local weather and lifestyle trends will affect sales, it’s also important to stick to the basics. “My best piece of advice? Sell a good product at a good price, followed up with good service,” Dietert says.
Keep it Clean, Keep it Simple
Eric Schnelle, president of S&H Farm Supply, knows a thing or two about rotary cutters. The dealership carries Woods, Rhino, Bush Hog and Schulte Industries cutters and has been selling the implements since the 1980s. S&H has locations in Joplin, Lockwood, Mountain Grove and Rogersville, Mo.
Jim Dietert, sales manager for Ewald Tractor, says his rural lifestyle customers have done research regarding rotary cutters, but are still interested in learning about all the options, including the advantages of higher-priced models.
This longevity and expertise means repeat business among rural lifestylers, especially as their acreage or usage expands.
“They keep trending up. First it was 10 and 15 acres, and now it’s 20 or more acres to cover. So we’re seeing customers trade in every 3-5 years with an upward trend in cutter size,” says Schnelle.
In addition to increasing the size of their cutters, customers also desire a cleaner, easier product to maintain.
“Cutters now are lower maintenance, with smooth decks that make cleaning easier and bigger gear boxes that provide more durability. An easier to clean dome deck is pretty popular. It has a nicer fit and finish.
“To meet this demand, Rhino, in particular, is coming out with a new line of 15-foot cutters with new features that improve both serviceability and durability. It’s as if they started with a blank slate and designed something different that consumers will want to buy,” says Schnelle.
This appreciation for rotary cutter detail is reflected in S&H’s customer base, which is knowledgeable about their implement needs and is looking for equipment with more size and power.
“The rural lifestyle customers we saw years ago bought fairly small, simple tractors and implements. But now, they’re buying higher horsepower tractors, putting up hay on their own and are trending to larger implements,” Schnelle says. “We used to sell mostly 6-foot models and we’re now seeing increased popularity with our 12-15-foot hydraulic fold models. These have flexibility for pond banks, ditches, etc., that you couldn’t do with a 6- or 10-foot straight model.”
“Just do the basics and you’ll have no problems selling cutters…”
Another aspect of selling rotary cutters is ensuring customer safety. These implements can throw rocks and debris long distances and operators need to be careful when using them on steep surfaces.
“Even though nobody really inquires about the safety of this product, we always make sure to perform a little safety training with new customers. We do a ‘walk around’ and give them filters for their 50-hour service. Sometimes, it’s a really new product to them. We also make sure to point out the safety portions of the manuals. Some have considered doing safety seminars, but we feel that people ask more questions one-on-one than they would feel comfortable doing in a group setting.”
Schnelle says his rural lifestyle customers sometimes have sophisticated needs and they also have an increasing preference for easier-to-maintain equipment.
However, he says it’s best to keep the sales process simple. “Don’t over complicate it. Keep it to the basics. Keep plenty of stock, display it well, roll it in with package deals, promote it, etc. Just do the basics and you’ll have no problems selling cutters.”
Paths to Sales Success
A rotary cutter isn’t a piece of equipment that can perform a variety of tasks. Its mission is simple: clear and maintain the land. However, this doesn’t mean sales have to remain flat or stagnant.
There are many potential customers for this one-purpose implement. Pay attention to local trends and weather and your customer’s increasing needs as they expand their land. Also, bundle deals or finance packages can increase your chance of success when selling rotary cutters.