Kyle Barton, salesperson with Bobcat of Marion, says there has been increased demand for mini excavators over the last 10 years as the technology has improved. Landscapers and light construction contractors like the equipment’s power and versatility and its minimal impact on property. Bobcat’s mini excavator, the E42, weighs under 10,000 pounds, compared with 30,000 or 50,000 pounds for full-size excavators. It can also be pulled with just a pickup and trailer.

Other segments, such as production farmers and even rural lifestylers like Joe Kapitany of Simpson, Ill., are purchasing the machines. Kapitany uses his mini excavator for many land management tasks, such as removing trees and stumps and digging watering holes for wildlife. Popular options are hydraulic clamp attachments and a secondary hydraulic X-Change System, both of which Kapitany purchased, along with an extended warranty. (Read more about Joe Kapitany and the equipment he uses for his land management projects.)

Barton says one of the biggest obstacles he has to overcome when selling is convincing customers that a compact machine can do large jobs. He often lets customers try out machines on their own properties — and that helped him earn Kapitany’s business. “For new customers there is often a learning curve regarding operating an excavator in terms of learning the sensitivity of the sticks. Joe went out in the middle of a 50-acre field and just started digging,” Barton says.

Renting equipment is another lead-in to sales. Barton offers this advice regarding running a successful rental department.

“You have to keep your rental fleet up to date. There’s a misconception that you set up a rental store and keep the machines for 10 years. You end up ‘nickel-and-diming’ yourself to death with repairs,” Barton says. Plus, it doesn’t represent your dealership or your brand well by renting a machine not in top condition.

“We keep equipment in our rental fleet for 2 years maximum. I’m also able to sell out of our rental fleet, so customers have an option for a newer machine at a lower price,” Barton says.