Bart Sherwood has used his retail experience, personal brand and lean approach to operations to build a successful rural lifestyle destination store. It is because of this that Sherwood Tractor was awarded Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s Dealership of the Year award in the multi-store category. Sherwood Tractor’s main store is 4 miles north of Rose Bud, Ark., population 482. Its second location is in a community about 68 miles away that doesn’t even post a population.
Promoting the Sherwood name is the promise behind the equipment he sells. Sherwood grew up in Rose Bud and was one of 12 kids and his own 9 kids attended the same elementary school as he and his siblings did. His family farm is just 7 miles from the farm he owns today, and he lives the lifestyle that his customers do — raising cattle, horses and hay.
TV advertising has been the best medium for him to reach customers statewide. “I always write my own ads and appear on camera. I never use canned commercials. Customers want to know who their dealer is and who they are. That’s the approach we’ve always taken, and it’s worked well for us. I recorded my first TV commercial in 2012 and I had each of my kids sitting on a different Mahindra tractor. I said, ‘Hi, I’m Bart Sherwood from Sherwood Tractor. Mahindra’s got a whole family of tractors to meet your needs around the home, in the garden, or on the farm. I can outfit each one of my kids with a different Mahindra tractor; I bet I can outfit you, too. So, come in to Sherwood Tractor,’” he says.
Sherwood plans to continue with TV advertising but knows the importance of digital marketing. He turned to Patrick Richardson, a friend of his son Parker for online marketing strategies and IT support. Richardson works from Utah, where he is attending college, and visits the dealership about 4 times a year.
“The amount of leads we are getting over the internet is tremendous and he has also set up an online parts store and it’s taking off. You need someone with knowledge, experience and a bright mind,” Sherwood says.
Richardson creates new content for social media and develops information for the home page and other pages but relies on the Dealer Spike platform for more than 3,000 pages of product information.
He also adds other functionality to help the customer experience, such as chat boxes. “The online shopping experience will continue to grow online with new image and video technology,” Richardson says.
The dealership already has a head start on the virtual shopping experience with its new parts store. The online store was launched in July and in August and September they earned more than $10,000 in parts sales.
Another fresh approach is the hiring of Robin Bush as foreman/lead mechanic. She is the only female Mahindra certified technician for Mahindra North America. She attended Arkansas State University in Searcy, Ark., for training in mechanics. Sherwood hired her right out of school, about 8 years ago.
“I’ve had job offers from other dealerships, but I’m committed to Bart. I’m loyal to Bart,” Bush says.