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 and other factors 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.

Sherwood describes his management style as laid back, but focused. “I’m easy going, but at same time I’m personally driven to achieve. I want to keep building the business, increase sales and try to be a better dealer this year than last year,” he says.

He starts his week with a Monday morning team meeting where they talk about process improvements, sales goals, customer feedback and customer service topics. Sherwood also shares year-to-year comparisons across brands, parts and service performance as well as monthly budgets.

The dealership uses Basic Software Systems for its dealership management system, a big step up from QuickBooks. “We could not operate without Basic with the volume of sales that we do. It’s been a lifesaver as far as being able to track our day-to-day business. It’s a complete software package that does everything — sales, parts, service, rental and accounting,” Sherwood says.

Before starting his wholesale business, Sherwood was a store manager for Walmart and he’s brought over some things he learned from the conglomerate. “One of the things I learned is that anytime you visit another store, whether it be a Walmart store or a competitor, see what you can learn from them,” he says.

Another lesson is to watch budgets and control costs. “We run pretty lean on our people. I’m looking at adding another salesman because I do a lot of the selling at this location. And it really makes it difficult to spend the time I need to in the different areas and handle management,” Sherwood says.

Running lean with staff also means cross training and pitching in. “I tell them that there’s really no such thing as, ‘That’s not my job,’” he says. Dealership employees attend classes online through Mahindra University and through Basic Software.

Sherwood consults with Bob Clements International during on-site visits and by participating in one of its dealer success groups.