Pictured Above: Mike Kelly, center, owns Kelly Tractor & Equipment, Longview, Texas. His team includes Josh Miller (left), salesperson, and Craig Maitland (right), sales manager.
Kelly Tractor & Equipment of Longview, Texas, doesn’t hesitate to take trade-ins when making a deal for new equipment, but unlike a lot of dealers, they just don’t keep it around long.
“We will take a trade in a heartbeat,” says Mike Kelly, owner of the dealership. “But it’s sold before we trade for it. We wholesale almost every trade. It’s gone immediately. How many dealerships have you seen go out of business or really get into financial trouble because they’re knee deep in used equipment? I don’t like used equipment because we’ve been burned on it too many times.”
On occasion, the dealer will keep a trade around if they know its history and it’s in good shape. “We’ll keep it around for a quick sale, but most times, it’s pretty well used up when the customer wants to trade it,” says Craig Maitland, sales manager.
Early on after he opened the dealership, Kelly says, “We really had to watch two or three of the jockeys we tried to work with because their checks were rubber.”
About 25 years ago, they met a wholesaler they’ve been dealing with almost exclusively ever since. “We are so fortunate that we’ve built a rapport with him. At first I would call his bank while he was sitting in my office to make sure the check was good. Finally, the banker says, ‘Mike, you don’t have to call. Don’t worry about Keith. He does what he says he’s going to do.’”
“He’s a rare find. We consider him a friend,” says Maitland. “He puts deals together for us all of the time. He buys 99% of our trade-ins and turns it into cash for us.”
In fact, it’s not unusual for Kelly to call the wholesaler and put him on speaker so the customer can hear for himself how much he’ll give the dealership on the equipment that customer wants to trade. “We usually have sent him photos already and given him a run down on its condition and rate it on a scale of 1-10. The customer is going to hear exactly what he’s going to put in it, and I’m going to give him exactly what he tells me he’s going to give me for it,” says Kelly.
It’s a breakeven cash deal for Kelly Tractor and the customer. “I’m going to take that cash and show it as a trade-in. If it’s $7,500 then he’s got $7,500 cash going in. That’s our philosophy,” says Kelly.
Read more about Kelly Tractor, the 2015 Rural Lifestyle Dealer Dealership of the Year in the single-store category.