In Rural Lifestyle Dealer's 2019 Business Trends & Outlook Report, 46% of dealers said they were planning to update their retail spaces this year. Now halfway through the year, RLD sought updates from these dealers, asking:

Why kind of improvements are you planning? For example, are you planning to refresh your existing showroom; pursue a major remodel; add square footage; or build a new facility? Why are you taking on these projects?

Here are a few responses from dealers who have kept to their New Year’s plans, and how their new updates are faring along with their sales.

“Our showroom needs to be an extension of our dealership brand. Customers now expect experiences when they shop, especially when making a larger equipment purchase. What they encounter when they walk through the door needs to represent our brand and evoke a feeling. We offer powersports equipment in addition to lawn and garden equipment, so we have to mix a rugged feel with a sense of excitement and adventure. We recently completed a 10,000 square-foot showroom addition and refreshed the old showroom so the spaces were cohesive; in addition, since we recently rebranded, the old showroom needed to match the look and feel of our new logo and brand. As new owners, we wanted to give a fresh look to the place to help draw attention to the fact that we are new.

“The update was a simple: a fresh coat of paint, new flooring and taking down the multitude of brand posters that had the walls feeling like a busy race car. Simple updates went a long way to give the showroom a more industrial, rugged and modern feel. It's all about the experience — giving people a reason to visit again and again.”

— Mandy Witty, Power Pac Equipment, Marshfield, Wis.

“We recently started an upgrade of the restrooms that customer use. Our dealership’s theme is ag heritage. For example, we have farming antiques and barn roofing over the parts counter. When we started planning upgrades to the customer bathrooms, we wanted to do something to create attention. Following our theme, we decided to build an indoor outhouse.

“Many of our customers bring along their families when shopping for tractors and implements and we wanted to create a conversation piece. The outhouse is becoming a sales tool — it helps us build relationships with them. The word is spreading about our ‘Indoor Outhouse’ and have people that would have never set foot in our door otherwise are coming to see our new restroom. In the past, we got comments on the darkness and age of our restroom — now we have people taking pictures of it. It’s one of our most popular Facebook posts, too! Sometimes the best marketing isn’t to do with the machinery: sometimes it can be as simple as a facility upgrade that sparks the interest of your customers.”

— Doug Vahrenberg, Vahrenberg Implement, Higginsville, Mo.

“For us, this year’s improvement plan is about lighting. All fluorescent fixtures are being replaced with LED fixtures: that’s in the shop, the showroom and on the outside pole. This is an improvement that hopefully pays for itself in time. The LEDs are brighter and last longer. The best part is they use less electricity, so they pay for themselves!”

— Wayne Blankenship, Rocky Mount Tractor, Rocky Mount, Va.

“We did a huge remodeling project in 2013, adding an 11,000 square foot shop. Our plans for the next 12-18 months are to build a ‘pole building’ for storing our shop’s equipment and specialty tools. Our longer-range plan is to add a showroom and remodel our parts department, which we’re hoping could be in the 3-5 year range.

— Bill Hartzler, Lowe & Young, Wooster, Ohio