Williams Tractor is based in Fayetteville, Ark., and has 7 locations, including two that are devoted to powersports. Joe Turner manages the Rogers, Ark., store and has been in the business for 14 years. He grew up riding 3-wheelers, dirt bikes and ATVs in Arizona and California. Turner acknowledges seasonal challenges of the industry in the Midwest. “But I don’t think our industry is quite as seasonal as the tractor business and it can be ‘hit or miss.’ We’ve actually had some solid Januarys that were really good, and we didn’t do anything more in terms of promotion. There’s no explanation for it sometimes,” Turner says.
January and February are generally the slowest times and the rush begins during the spring season. “A lot of our products are family related, so once school is out, sales pick up. Business slows in late June or July because people are taking vacations and it can be hot. Then in late August, it picks up again. We’ve had great Decembers, but also those that were more like January or February,” he says.
He has tried a lot of ideas to overcome seasonality, especially during the winter months. “Maintaining a media presence is important. Obviously, digital marketing is huge now. We try to post on Facebook and Craigslist as much as possible to keep our name out there. Polaris does a good job of having programs that are geared toward slow times to draw traffic to you. We try to ‘piggyback’ off them on a local level when they’re running national ads,” he says.
The Rogers store caters to extreme enthusiasts, and Turner tries to schedule special machine builds during the winter. “We do a lot of custom projects for customers, one-of-a-kind machines, which sets us apart and attracts a little different crowd. An internet presence with those types of vehicles can bring in business, especially during the slow times. Providing heavily accessorized vehicles with aftermarket parts that other dealers don’t offer helps bring in customers.
“Wintertime is also an opportunity for the shop to be busy getting trades ready to sell,” Turner says. “You’re able to catch up on some of those ‘loose end’ jobs that were on the back burner in the busy season. We’ll also run service specials to try to get machines in the shop. Same for the parts department, we’ll run different promotions and again, Polaris is good about running off-season parts specials to draw people in.”
“One promotion that has worked is a ‘Freedom Friday’ where we invite police, firefighters, active military and veterans into the store each month for a free lunch. Those events, conducted at both Freedom locations, consistently draw anywhere from 10-40 people. We also do a ‘Demo Day’ event, when it starts to get cold in late fall and that keeps our product in the customer’s mind during the winter and seems to help maintain floor traffic. There’s no substitute for getting them in the seat of the vehicle,” Turner says.
To learn more about Williams Tractor, read our coverage of the dealership in our 2017 Season-to-Season series.