The UTV category is a hot segment in the rural lifestyle market, but the high-priced and high-powered vehicles are not a fit for some customers. Instead, one dealership, AgriVision Equipment Group, a 17-store dealership in Iowa and Nebraska, is taking advantage of local demand for another vehicle option, used golf carts.
Eric McCready, who is the manager of small ag, commercial worksite products and turf equipment, says the dealership has always taken in used golf carts in trade and noticed within the last year or so, an increased demand for the vehicles. Their market area lacks a dealer that focuses on golf carts, so it opened up the possibility for expansion.
“We started researching the market last winter, developing a business plan and figuring out the target market. We were targeting golfers, but we were seeing that the ones we had on hand we weren’t selling to golfers, but more to people who wanted to drive around their residences or in town. Those people don’t want to spend the kind of money you need to buy a UTV,” McCready says. AgriVision Equipment is formerly A&M Green Power Group and they were named Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s Dealership of the Year in 2013.
Part of their research included finding a supplier to provide a quantity of golf carts that were in good condition. They found an E-Z-Go golf cart dealer in the Midwest who has agreements with golf courses to regularly furnish them with new vehicles, so has a good supply of used carts on hand.
AgriVision Equipment Group
Founded: AgriVision Equipment Group was formed on January 1, 2014 with the merger of A&M Green Power Group and Barker Implement. The merger completed the consolidation of four long-time family owned John Deere dealerships.
Locations: 17 locations in Iowa and Nebraska
Lines Carried: John Deere, Honda Power Equipment, STIHL
Business System: Equip
Getting Equipment Ready to Sell
McCready says they do minimal maintenance on the used vehicles such as removing decals, replacing batteries or minor service. They work with the supplier to ensure they have a variety of colors to sell. They’ve learned that the vehicles provide strong upselling opportunities as well.
“People don’t like the ‘plain Janes.’ We’re adding fancy wheels, big tires, lift kits and rear seats and people are going straight to them,” McCready says. Many customers come in looking for gas-powered models and then switch to battery-powered because of the ease of use and maintenance.
One employee is in charge of the project, but any salesperson can sell the vehicles. The project started in May at the Macedonia, Iowa, location, but is expanding to other locations. Those stores proximity to Des Moines as well as Council Bluffs and Sioux City, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb., offer a large customer base.
“We’ve done some print ads and had a ride-and-drive event, but business has really been driven by word-of-mouth,” says McCready.
Another plus is that the golf carts don’t compete with their UTV sales. “We’re still selling John Deere gators to customers looking for that kind of vehicle. The golf carts complement that business and attract new customers,” McCready says.