Rural Lifestyle Dealer's Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey asked dealers to share their top opportunities for 2020. The answers spanned a wide range of topics, which shows that dealers are improving their businesses from all angles.

Here are the responses, grouped into topics. Dive in and see how others are growing their dealerships in 2020.

Locations, Marketing, New Product Lines

“New location opened in the heart of a highly populated, large acreage area. Expanding on current brands to complement a wider customer base and markets.” … “Improving utility tractor and skid steer market share.” … “New locations.” … “We are still growing our first location, but have the opportunity to expand into another location down the road that will help us out also.” … “Getting into new markets and different customers, such as more commercial landscapers and government accounts.”

“New location, process development and follow-up processes. Customer targeting tools” … “Perfecting the business model, then leaving the option for a second location” … “New locations, new technology, expanding rental offerings.” … “New locations and expanded offering of small construction equipment.” … “New location for existing business.” … “We built a new store last year after being in our old location for 33 years. Our future growth will come from us taking advantage of the new dealership, added employees, expanded reach in our current market, process changes in sales and service, and new marketing efforts by bringing in marketing manager.”.… “A refreshed approach to our dealership.”

“We’re going to see every customer in our area no matter if they have done business with us or not.” ... “Expanded customer segments within existing territory.” … “New brand and a new larger dealership facility.”

Technology, Sales, Online Sales

“New technology.” … “Bringing on additional sales and service techs. More online interaction.” … “The ‘innerweb’ is probably the only way to increase sales. Our area is lousy with dealers. In a 60-mile radius of our dealership, there are over 50 dealers.” ... “Online sales and streamlined service flow.” … “Online sales and amazing customer service” … “Robotic mowing and online sales,” … “Online marketing is now the driving force in sales.”

“Online, the under-40 segment and technology, that’s where I feel our growth is.” … “Online sales, but price stability is very important. With tariffs, prices are constantly changing, so it’s hard to stay ahead of the game. Here’s an example: We sold one product most of year at $995.00 and the replacement cost to restock is $1,059.00. Did we really make anything and the new price slowed sales instantly.” … “Improved online parts sales.” … … “We plan on implementing a new outside salesperson and we desperately need a good technician.” … “Increased used equipment sales.”

Battery-Powered Equipment

“Commercial battery-powered products. California has a HUGE push to go battery and as of now, there are only a few pieces in a few lines that really qualify as commercial. Landscape contractors are being pushed to go battery by their customers in a huge way. Some cities and agencies are going battery only and if you want their business, you are going to have to figure out a way to go battery. Always on the lookout for brands that sell SERVICE and quality. That keeps us in business long term. Generally speaking, we create our own margins using a math formula based on cost. By far the largest opportunity for continued growth is to continue to build OUR brand and grow our dedicated customer base. No one can match our knowledge and service.”

“New zero-turn products by Cub Cadet. We’re considering adding a compact tractor line, and expanding into battery powered tools.” … “Although we do not sell any battery powered products. I believe this will soon be a growth area.” … “Solar batteries and solar panels, also new batteries.”

Service, Rental

“Improved service billing processes and practices. Improved inventory control and margins. Increased home growth.”... “Increased service department revenue” … “Increase in service sales due to less new equipment being sold.” … “Improvements with personnel in our parts and service departments will drive our growth going forward.”

“Biggest opportunities for growth is to be able to handle the volume of work in our service department. There are fewer and fewer ‘old school’ shops and shade tree repair guys . And in our area, urban growth is exploding. The need to accommodate increased customer volume is huge. Our operating space is limited by the municipality and regulations, so we don't have an easy solution to create more space for our operation at our current location. We look to technology, online services, remote service calls and anything else that we can employ. We have been in the business for 31 years and thinking outside the box has allowed us to do our best to keep up with demands but it’s a daily challenge.”

“Improved margins, new products, changes in service” … “Conquest accounts meaning customers we have not dealt with in the past. We’re taking over some John Deere customers since the local JD dealer is doing poorly with service. We have a lot of requests coming from outside our normal trade area looking for more support in the big three: sales, parts and service.” … “I am focused on turns in our shop, customer service and growing our rental fleet.” … “Changes in service department efficiency and work order processes. Possibly new lines to fill in where other manufacturers have stopped manufacturing.”

“Improving our financial position, use less floor planning, reduce expenses, pay down debt, plan for using our cash instead of the bank’s and grow at the speed of cash.” … “We just completed a stock buyout of relatives and now have the next generation breathing some new life back into the business.” … We are focusing on parts and service as growth areas. If the economy goes down, these will be the areas that will carry us.” … “Absorption and rental.”

Margins and More

“Improved margins, expense control” … “The biggest opportunity for growth is other dealers closing up, which allows us to raise our margin.” … “Hemp” … “Reputation of quality products and product reliability. Education of customers.” … “Taking on the KIOTI tractor line. Building a new shop on our large acreage to accommodate growth.

“Our number one growth opportunity is from MEGA Dealers that keep buying other dealers. The larger they get the more we sell. Rural lifestyle customers want to be treated with respect and like dealing with single-store, family-run businesses. Also, the small startup dealers that handle off brands, keep switching brands or coming and going out of business. That helps us as we have only been in the business a short 68 years.”

“I don’t know what opportunities are left for the smaller business. Or, I’m just old and tired. I once worked the dealership up to a million-dollar-a-year business and lost my butt because of a drought the next year and that was before the internet.”

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