ABOVE PICTURE: Dealers say versatility and affordability are priorities for rural lifestylers when they are researching seeders and planters. Consider offering units for rental to introduce the implement’s many uses. Shown is the Woods Precision Super Seeder.
As spring blooms, more customers will show interest in purchasing their own seeders and planters. Sales may not be as fast and furious as an April shower, but the category does offer opportunities. Local trends and conditions may even cause sales to spike, especially if you cater to your customers’ unique needs.
Contrary to the notion that a rise in the hunting market would mean a rise in food plot planter sales, the dealers we spoke with didn’t see this demand in their area. Targeting horse owners may be a safer strategy, depending on your customer needs. Another challenge to seeder and planter sales is the high price tag, but demonstrating versatility of the implement, taking advantage of manufacturer resources and using rentals to convert sales are all ways to overcome these pitfalls. And while manufacturers offer a large selection of models, dealers typically only keep a few models in inventory to minimize overhead and help customers not feel so overwhelmed.
Turning Sticker Shock into Sales
Dennis Baumann has been with Swiderski Equipment since 1973, so he has a wealth of experience when it comes to understanding customer needs and product trends. Swiderski’s was founded in 1925 and has five locations in central Wisconsin. They carry a variety of tractor and implement brands, including New Holland, Kioti, Massey Ferguson, Woods, Land Pride, Brillion and many more. Large-scale dairy farmers make up the bulk of their seeder and planter sales, but they do see the occasional rural lifestyler make the investment.
This SSB-12, a 12-foot Agricultural Seeder from Brillion, is a top seller for Iowa-based dealership Weisburg Implement & Supply. Customers use it to plant alfalfa and seed waterways.
“Most rural lifestylers aren’t aware or educated on the price. That’s the biggest shocker,” says Baumann. “The large farmers know because they’re replacing things every year, so it’s not a shock. But the rural lifestyler is in shock.”
He says many customers are looking for used seeders or planters, but carrying a selection of smaller seeders and planters is good for business. Swiderski’s is ready to meet customer needs, especially for those looking to plant a food plot, do some landscaping or provide a small pasture rotation for livestock. They may initially come in looking for a small drill, but they’re led to a smaller food plot planter or seeder like the Woods Hunting Edition Precision Super Seeder (available in 48-, 60- or 72-inch widths) or the Brillion Food Plot Seeder or Landscape Seeder.
“It’s one of those sure and steady things. Numbers are limited. We’re not going to order a semi load, but we do stock them. We have them on hand vs. showing someone a sheet of paper, which can discourage them from online buying at another dealership. On this type of equipment, people like to know what they’re getting,” says Baumann.
He adds that while online sales are an important and necessary tool, it’s not a dealmaker or breaker for them. While they’ve lost a few local customers due to another dealership’s online sales, they’ve also gained customers from as far as five states away.
“Price shopping is part of today’s world. Normally, if someone is going to buy Brillion or Woods, you’re not going to be able to buy something for less because there’s not much difference from dealership to dealership. Everyone is price conscience, but if they like the product, and you’re doing the right things for them, you’re not going to lose the sale if you’re dealing on the same products. Ninety percent of customers still want to buy these things locally.”
Believe to Achieve
Will small-scale seeders and planters ever be a booming business for Swiderski’s? Maybe, maybe not. But Baumann is certain that stocking and selling these products is the right thing to do, for the customers and for the dealership. After all, keeping customers happy with a comprehensive product line could lead to additional sales.
“Everything in the business nowadays is relevant to your people and your product. We believe in the Brillion product, and you have to believe to be good at selling it. Don’t sell it if you don’t believe in it. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from selling a product as long as they’re willing to put in the work, especially on this basic implement,” says Baumann.
Partnership Drives Sales
In much the same way Swiderski’s values its manufacturer relationship with Brillion, Coleman Equipment (with 3 locations in the Kansas City, Mo., area) has high praise for its implement supplier, Land Pride. Coleman Equipment recently acquired Scott’s Tractor and O’Dell Equipment, which created a comprehensive solution for rural lifestylers, commercial landscapers and the construction industry.
“Our partnership is huge. There are only so many hours in the day and they make our job easier. They have incredibly high quality and are very diverse with a tremendous amount of products. They’re also in tune with customer needs,” says Scott Kolbeck, Coleman’s sales manager. “We’re also at a unique advantage, because their plant is right down the road from us.”
Another manufacturer relationship which has proven to be highly beneficial is that between Land Pride and Kubota, Coleman Equipment’s primary tractor line.
“O’Dell was one of the original Kubota dealers in the country, so we’ve got a long history with this line of tractors. Because of Kubota’s alliance with Land Pride, which allows for 0% financing of any Land Pride implement with a Kubota purchase, most customers will purchase two or three implements with their tractor. They also have incentives they occasionally run so if you buy two implements, you get a better deal. It can cover the cost of another attachment, so most customers take advantage of that. This is how we move many implements, especially our seeders.”
Scott Kolbeck, sales manager for Coleman Equipment of the Kansas City, Mo., area says they have about 9 seeders on hand for rental and those are often booked up during the spring. Customers who rent see the need for repeat projects and often are ready to take the next step and purchase the implement.
Customers Value Versatility
In Coleman Equipment’s service area, many rural lifestyle customers have 20-80 acre home sites, an ideal market for selling to “prosumers.” Many handle their own landscaping needs and appreciate a versatile implement that can help them get the job done.
So which seeder model is Coleman Equipment most successful with? They’ve seen steady sales growth with the APS Series. This all-purpose seeder comes in four sizes: 4-, 5-, 6- and 7-foot widths.
“Our 6-foot seeder is the most popular across the board because the most popular tractor we sell is 35-40 horsepower and it’s conducive to a 6-foot seeder,” says Kolbeck. “Also, this particular series of seeders is great for letting customers get as close as possible to ditches, sidewalks, driveways and tree rows. You have the most effective planting area, so no ground is wasted. And it has a relatively low price point for how versatile it is. The seed box handles most turf grass seeds as well as a wide variety of other seeds ranging from alfalfa to peas.”
Kolbeck also touts the affordability of this model over more complex products. “This ground-drive seeder has no gear boxes, no drive line and no unnecessary cost. While Land Pride does make a great PTO powered seeder (the OS15), the APS-15 series is nearly half that price,” says Kolbeck.
Target Horse Owners
Kansas and Missouri may be known as whitetail deer country, but Kolbeck says many of his planter sales are to horse owners, not hunters.
“Sure, we’d love to see growth in the food plot area, but when you talk to 10 different people about it, you get 10 different answers. There’s no surefire 100% best way. Pick up any hunting trade magazine and you’ll see ads for so many different small manufacturers out there and no two are exactly alike,” says Kolbeck. “We can only do so much. There are only so many types we can sell and represent and do the job we’re supposed to do well. We could have 20 different brands of seeders on our lot and we’d sell 1 piece of equipment per year total. There’s no volume.”
If a customer does have their mind set on a planter specific to food plots, they won’t go away unhappy though. Kolbeck uses the dealership’s proximity to the Land Pride manufacturing facility to its full advantage as a sales tool, letting customers know he can quickly obtain the Land Pride FPS series food plot seeder, which works the ground, spins the seeds and packs the ground down on the back end.
“It’s not that our customers aren’t hunters or don’t want food plots. They just want something more well-rounded,” says Kolbeck. “A lot of our customers have horses, so they continually need to maintain fescue or bluegrass on a large lot — a continual rejuvenation of pastures.”
Lead with Rentals
Kolbeck says one strategy that works for him is to rent seeders. “I would say the way a lot of people get exposed to a new product is to try it and that means renting. It’s beneficial because we get the exposure we need to take the sale to the next level. It’s a good segue to sell,” says Kolbeck. “People who come in every year to rent a seeder eventually come in and buy one. Then maybe they work out a deal to go and seed their neighbor’s yard and they’re getting an even better return on their investment.”
Coleman Equipment has 8 or 9 seeders they keep available for rental, but those are usually booked up well in advance with a waiting list during prime seeding seasons. For customers who come to the dealership ready to make a purchase, Kolbeck turns to the expertise of the marketing manager, Kim Moritz, who ensures implements share the spotlight with tractors.
“She analyzes the way things need to be done and what will have the most appeal to people coming in. The best approach is that every tractor on display should have something attached to it, whether it be a tiller, a mower, a loader or, now that it’s spring, a seeder. When we start adding tools, it becomes something of value. Customers start to make a laundry list of all the ways they can use each implement.”
Weisburg Implement & Supply, Webster City, Iowa, doubled its seeder and planter sales last year because of online advertising which boosted their search engine rankings.
Iowa-based Weisburg Implement & Supply had such an increase in seeder and planter sales last year, that their salesmen and service manager, Easton Burgin, were invited to attend the Landoll dealer appreciation banquet. The dealership carries the Brillion line of seeders and planters and Landoll is the parent company.
“We sold 20 last year alone, more than double the year before,” says Burgin. He says search engine ranking for his dealership played a role in increased sales. “Our Google rankings were high when people typed in ground seeders. While this wasn’t our expectation or intention, we did do a lot of advertising online, in Tractor House magazine as well as running radio ads. Customers would see we had what they wanted and call. Most weren’t in the immediate local area. The closest Iowa customer was 67 miles away and the farthest 150 miles away. We have even shipped to customers at the Mexican border, Oklahoma, South Dakota and all over. When I would ask people how they found out about us, they’d say ‘Google.’ ”
“Our Google rankings were high when people typed
in ground seeders…”
Weisburg’s is primarily an implement dealership (they don’t carry a tractor line) and has come to be known as an expert in the implement field. So which seeders and planters are they moving?
“We carry probably 10 kinds of seeders and planters, but the one we sell the most by far are the Brillion Agricultural Seeders in either 8 or 12 feet that customers use to plant alfalfa and seed waterways. The SSBP-12 is a 3-point type and the SSB-12 is a pull type.”
While Brillion does offer a food plot planter (the FPS-6/FPSA-6/FPSB-6), Burgin hasn’t seen an increase in demand for this piece of specialty equipment.
“In our particular area, the hobby hunters can’t afford them,” says Burgin. Much like with the Coleman Equipment customers in Kansas and Missouri, Weisburg’s customers want something more versatile for their money. The dealership serves mainly rural lifestylers and small-to-medium farmers. “We have people who raise hay or have animals they want to integrate alfalfa with a crop rotation,” says Burgin.
While Burgin is grateful for the business boost last year, he knows it’s a product you have to watch year to year to determine demand. He’s not going to stock them too heavily and only ordered 5 or 6 more this year. By this time last year, he had already ordered 15. His best piece of advice for other dealers looking to establish roots in the seeder and planter market?
“Price is the biggest factor. When other dealerships get greedy with selling seeders and planters because there’s a big demand, their customers will price shop. And that’s where they’ve found us. It’s worth the added expense of shipping because they’ve saved so much.”