Rural Lifestyle Dealer offers a comprehensive analysis of the 2017 Equipment Dealers Assn.’s 2017 Dealer-Manufacturer Relations Survey in the summer issue. Here's an excerpt featuring comments from Exmark, which earned a Gold award. Exmark’s highest score among the 12 criteria as ranked by dealers was in the area of parts quality. Exmark’s score of 6.43 was higher than the average mean score of all OPE manufacturers of 6.04. 

Daryn Walters, director of marketing, comments on the company’s rankings:

On proud criteria: At Exmark, we strive to continually learn and improve, so for us, it’s great to know our dealers understand we’re listening and responding to their needs.

On short-term focused improvement area: We’re working hard to better support our dealers in their local markets with turnkey marketing and advertising support to increase awareness and interest in Exmark and its products. We’re also investing in new training resources to better train our dealers’ sales personnel on the unique features and benefits of Exmark products.

Both of these efforts have resulted in strong retail growth for Exmark dealers across the country.

On recent changes: We launched Exmark University, our online dealer-training platform, in late 2016, and feedback from our dealer network has been incredibly positive. Exmark University gives our dealers a better way to give each employee the ongoing training they need to be a great resource for their customers.

On trends: We’re watching a number of trends, however, succession planning is one we’re paying particularly close attention to. Many successful, long-standing dealerships do not have the next generation coming back to take over the business. We’re also seeing an overall slowdown in new dealership openings across the country. While both trends underscore the challenges retailers face, we also see them as opportunities to be a better partner with our dealers and give them the tools they need to succeed.

On strategy when missing the mark: At Exmark, we’ve long focused our efforts on serving the needs of landscape professionals. While we haven’t taken our eye off the commercial market, in recent years we have adapted our product to better meet the growing demand of the home and acreage market.

We recognize that our dealers need strong, category-leading products to serve their customers in the acreage market. The successful 2017 launch of the Exmark Radius zero-turn riding mower is a recent example of our commitment. We will showcase even more innovation and product advancements at the 2017 GIE+EXPO.

On future plans: Exmark is fortunate to have the best local dealers across the country and we’re focused on helping them succeed. Based in part on the feedback of our dealers, we will continue to evolve our existing products and explore new product categories.

Our heritage serving landscape professionals has led to a dealer base that’s fairly metro-focused. As a result, we see tremendous growth potential by partnering with an increased number of dealers serving more rural focused markets.