In last year's Rural Lifestyle Dealer Business Trends & Outlook Report, we asked dealers what they do to ensure their leadership skills stay sharp. Here are some of the ideas they shared that you may want to take advantage of this year.
Many dealers turn to industry publications, manufacturer training programs as well as peer groups. A Nebraska dealer says, “I read Farm Equipment and Rural Lifestyle Dealer, am involved in what was formerly a Jerkins training program and now through Spader. I take training offered by AGCO and Bobcat.”
“I’m on the dealer council for TYM and Kioti tractors. We owned and operated new car dealerships for many years, so we use that marketing and financing experience in our rural lifestyle dealership. We are a 100% rural lifestyle dealership, but always welcome the ag people to enjoy our services, too,” says a dealer from Idaho.
“We’re members of the Western Equipment Assn. and do in-house training with Bob Clements and through Kubota University,” says a Texas dealer.
A California dealer says, “I’m an alumni of Goldman Sachs 10K small business program and I actively participate in peer networking events. I added manufacturers’ management classes, most recently Stihl’s Service Management Seminar. I read industry magazines. I would love to attend industry events/meetings where owners share and learn from each other on what works.”
Others look for local networking and leadership development opportunities. A Michigan dealer says, “I turn to local and state chambers of commerce, ag and turf magazines, Farm Service Agency and USDA publications. I keep up a good relationship with all local bankers and ask many questions about our local area on a weekly basis. I’m involved with a local homebuilders association, local child advocacy agency and local hospital organizations. I attend local township meetings to find out how many building permits are being issued and to learn about the sales of properties.”
Online networking is important for some. A Texas dealer says, “Better Business Bureau seminars, networking with local chamber members, Professional Power Equipment Congress (Facebook group), LinkedIn articles and TractoryByNet.com forums.”
Some seek out overall business experts. “Leadership skills are enhanced through reading books, viewing business podcasts and reading multiple business magazines, such as the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, and the Economist using Flipboard (mobile news application),” says a Michigan dealer.
In addition to programs offered through manufacturer and equipment dealer associations, dealers also mentioned SCORE, National Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Lions Club, Currie Management Consultants’ dealer 20 groups, National Assn. of Landscape Professionals, Synchrony Financial programs and others.
Bob Clements, a consultant and Rural Lifestyle Dealer columnist, was mentioned by many in the survey. “Bob Clements’ system has been very helpful in terms of instilling the team concept and installing an off-site salesman,” says a Delaware dealer.