A: “Too many people, with too many ideas, with too many solutions, with too many different companies trying to get me to change.”

 — Michael Smith, Franklin Welding, Rocky Mount, Va.

A: “Biggest challenge is just keeping it current. We only have so many ‘admin’ people (my wife, basically) and the website is low on her priority list. Our biggest reason for the site is to sell parts for two of our brands. We don't utilize it for sales like it could be. We sell a lot of parts through it, which is its main job. 

“The down side is that it reaches across the whole country and the customers have a hard time understanding that we are a dealer in Indiana, not the manufacturer or a parts warehouse. They also call in to have us look up their parts instead of using the site look-up, which takes our guys time when we have our own customers either calling in or at the counter. They could be on the phone with an online customer for more than 20 minutes. We have debated whether we should quit doing online parts, but last year, we sold over $150,000. But it's hard to justify one person for online parts only.

“The cost of the site, however, takes the profit margin down, so it's difficult to know how profitable it actually is. I haven't really crunched the numbers that tight yet. Another downside is the time it requires my wife to put in the orders and then pack and re-ship once the orders are in. One company will direct ship, so we don't have to handle those parts. For the other company, though, we have to do a stock order, have the parts shipped to us and then re-ship then out to the customer. It sometimes takes 2-2 1/2 days to do all that, which puts us behind on other work.

“I have told the staff to do a better job of screening the calls by caller ID. If it isn't a local area code, then ask the customer if this is for online parts and, if so, then take a message and have the guys call them back when its convenient (if they're busy when the call comes in). You just can't be on the phone with someone from California, Florida or New York when you have customers coming in the store to the counter. Also, online customers can be rude and very pushy. Then you have the credit card declines or the wrong part shipped for whatever reason and it comes back.”

Scott Benko, Haltom Equipment, Mooresville, Ind.

A: “There are quite a few leaders in specific industries that drive dealership’s web presence. TractorHouse.com is powerful in the ag industry. Autotrader.com and Cars.com are powerful in the used car business. Where does a rural lifestyles buyer go to shop for their needs? They certainly don’t automatically go to our dealership website. We rely on ‘Dealer Location’ links generated from our supplier’s sites. But how do we market used equipment?

“I believe there is room in the web world for a site that specializes in rural lifestyle used equipment that would enable us to list used compacts, RTVs, smaller implements, etc. I know how many leads are driven to us from the likes of TractorHouse.com for our ag business. I would like to see a site that has that much power for smaller equipment.

“As a retailer that handles a number of lines, I don’t believe we can build a ‘dealership specific’ site that will drive customers our way. I think we need an attractive, current, informative site that is the landing spot for a customer that has been driven there by a larger industry specific site for used equipment and by our supplier’s sites for new equipment.”

Leo Johnson, Johnson Tractor, Janesville, Wis.

A: “The number one challenge with our website is evaluating how well it is really working. The site does provide real-time information in regard to visits to our used equipment listed and that is helpful. Equipment with a lot of views and few calls needs to be reevaluated. Evaluating how well it is driving business to our store is a little more challenging.”

James Bishop, Flint New Holland, Mich.

A: “The answer is simple … time. The explanation is not so simple. Perhaps the answer is really ‘quality’ time. When your mind is clear, creative juices are flowing, your ideas are fresh and fun and your other to-do lists are non-existent. Too bad we all can’t schedule that into our day or week. The only option for me is to just keep plugging away a few days a week for whatever time is possible. I use lists and notes and a lot of them are created over the weekend when I am doing something totally unrelated to my workday life. Like eating the elephant, you do it one bite at a time.”

Nancy Howe, Champlain Valley Equipment, East Randolph, Vt.

A: “The main challenge for us is that the website is mobile friendly and current. We have a new marketing manager that will be focused on those things now, but it must be a team effort. If you leave it to one person with no feedback or guidance, they will struggle since they aren't in front of customers very much.”

 — Aaron Boggs, Finch Services, Westminster, Md.

A: “We built a website using WIX online website builder. I am not a programmer, but I enjoy design type work. It is fairly basic and I try to update it about twice a year. The challenge is finding time to sit down and do it.”

 — Craig Deaton, Quaker Trace Tractor, West Alexandria, Ohio

A: “The number one challenge to a website boils down to money. It is necessary to hire personnel to maintain the website, update it and to expand it. This equates down to a cost, or money. I have located funding for the website by scrutinizing other forms of advertising. My print and newspaper budget has been partially transferred to the web. My yellow page advertising is now at a minimum with those funds also earmarked for web advertising. Further additional advertising funds, as they become available, are being channeled into web activities.”

Jim Wozniewski, Jim’s Repair Service, Cedar Lake, Ind.

A: “Our biggest challenge on RanchlandTractor.com is keeping the inventory current with pictures of the actual units we have in stock. We address this by making sure we take pictures of each unit within 2 days of it arriving. We'd prefer to do it sooner. Real pictures, not manufacturer stock photos, are the key to engaging the customer and keeping them on your website.”

David Holman, Ranchland Tractor & ATV, Saucier, Miss.

A: "Our number one website challenge is keeping content fresh and optimizing for our website for all devices/platforms. We are addressing this by using ARI to host our website. They provide optimization for all devices/platforms and updated product brand showcases with new models loaded on a weekly basis."

Ray Sosler, Sosler's Garden and Farm Equipment, New Hampton, N.Y.

A: “The number one problem with our website is keeping it current and relevant. Our IT department doesn’t put the same priority on it that sales does. No clue on the fix. Ownership doesn’t want to spend the money to totally hire it done.”

Bill Levers, McFarlane Mfg. Co., Sauk City, Wis.

A: “The biggest challenge I have is getting the manufacture to get new sales literature to web hosting and then for them to get it where we can load on web site.”

Carl Witte, Maximum Outdoor Equipment & Service, Wichita, Kan.

A: “I believe our biggest issue is keeping the content up to date. Because our website system does not upload information from our inventory management system, we have to keep everything updated manually. This means adding in both new and used units when they come in right away. We also have to add the units we have in-stock to show that we have in-stock inventory of units. 

“Used units add additional work because of the photos that are required to properly display them. While we like to have photos of new units that aren’t just stock, we can at least get away using the stock photos if needed.”

Douglas Nord, Nord Outdoor Power, Bloomington, Ill.

A: “Our biggest issue is keeping the website current. We are always changing content, specials, used and new equipment. Given our site is hosted by another company we still are responsible for maintaining the content. We do have issues with the manufacturers keeping up their end (pictures, videos, etc.), so we can keep current with their new equipment and specials.

“Another issue we have is when you have multiple dealer sites. These are the sites hosted by manufacturers for us and they take the first position in search results, such as TractorHouse.com. Note, we use TractorHouse.com to advertise used equipment (they host a small website for us). Our main dealer site is where we list specials, new equipment, employment opportunities, ecommerce, etc. We recently dropped TractorHouse.com due to the season and big expense and they are always first on the search engine list.

“We often wonder whether we are getting the best bang for our buck. We are always being encouraged by the big manufacturers to use their site and our co-op dollars to offset the price. However, when you carry many product lines, you can’t always use a large manufacturer to host your site.”

Tim Beall, D.W. Ogg Equipment Company, Frederick, Md.

A: “The biggest concern is to be involved with the website on a daily basis, making sure everything is current especially with used equipment — as that can change on a daily basis. We have a good website, but just keeping it current during the busy season is challenging. We have all we can handle ‘in the heat of battle’ not alone to be putting current events and sales on the website. Also, that is when a lot of trades come in and to get them ready and get pictures and broadcast them to the site can be overwhelming. Usually that process goes undone until we slow down. To help, we have a college student help keep this information fresh and current.”

Gary Grollmus, Al-Joe's Pet & Garden Centers, Hamilton, Ohio