Editor's note: A previously published version of this story incorrectly referenced a direct mail program. The program is actually inserts in the Kansas City Star

How has your dealership recently been affected by Big Box competition and what changes have you made to stay competitive?

We have been half a block from Home Depot for 13 years. We have doubled our efforts with our advertising program. We print up to a 16-page flyer and will insert 1.5 million of those flyers in the 10 weeks from the last week of March until the end of May.  That’s historically the buying season for outdoor equipment.

“We also do a fall flyer to keep the fall leaf and snow season products and fall and winter service specials in front of customers. We’ll print another 400,000 copies, which can net us an additional 25-30% of annual sales to finish out the year. This advertising helps us compete, along with our website and having links back to our site from all of our vendors’ websites.

“Home Depot and other Big Box store customers will not ever come to your store unless you can prove that you are competitive, such as by setting up equipment, selling fuel and oil and offering delivery if needed. Prices and choice become an opportunity to slow down their 'Home Depot fixations.' Price point units may draw customers to Big Boxes, but full product presentation can get them to come and see us.”

—   David Wood, Smitty's Lawn & Garden Equipment, Olathe, Kan.

Read how David Wood established his dealership as the local propane conversion expert.