Running a dealership requires more from owners than moving equipment off the lot, and dealers are keeping watch on issues that impact their businesses. In Rural Lifestyle Dealer's 2017 Dealer Business Trends and Outlook Report, dealers ranked the issues they are most concerned. 

About 60% of dealers say finding good employees is the issue that they are most concerned about — and this was also the top issue last year. We’ve heard a variety of underlying factors in our conversations this year, including lack of interest in working at a dealership; lack of work ethic; and technician training concerns. Dealerships large and small are also struggling with the new work environment with its constant distractions from mobile devices.

Healthcare programs and costs ranked second this year and third last year. Larger dealerships in the U.S. continue to struggle with the additional costs of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And, rising healthcare costs affect dealerships of all sizes. The new administration says it will revisit the ACA, however, significant changes will probably be long in coming.

Low sales margins ranked third this year and second last year. There is a segment of customers who purchase equipment based on factors other than price, and dealers tell us they encourage their salespeople to sell features and brand over price. However, sales negotiations often include discounts and, in the process, margins take a hit.

Another concern for dealers relates to the credit worthiness of customers, with customer access to credit ranking fourth this year and last year. Even with a full portfolio of credit options, some customers’ credit histories stand in the way of a sale.

Concerns about manufacturer pressure for dealer purity rose into the top 5 this year, ranking eighth. This has traditionally been more of a concern for dealers carrying larger production agriculture equipment. However, it seems rural equipment dealers are also feeling some pressure.

Read the feature in the winter issue.