As the year comes to a close, Rural Lifestyle Dealer has compiled the top articles from each month of 2020. Take a look at what stories were trending on in March 2020.

1. Dealers Share COVID-19 Communication, Action Plans

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, as a pandemic on March 11. See the plans that dealers across North America have in place to keep their employees safe, while still serving customers — either in the store or at their sites.

2. Briggs & Stratton to Sell Turf Lines, Accelerate Growth in Other Areas

Briggs & Stratton outlined details about its strategic repositioning plan in a call with investors on March 6, which includes selling off the Ferris, Simplicity, Billy Goat, Snapper and Snapper Pro lines, along with its pressure washer and portable generator business. The proceeds will reduce debt and are expected to be complete by the end of 2020. The company says it will accelerate growth in its standby power and commercial engines, maximize returns in its residential engines and invest and aggressively grow its commercial battery systems. (Read the news release from Briggs & Stratton.)

Regarding the sale of the turf product lines, Todd Teske, Briggs & Stratton's chairman, president and CEO, said, “We expect the sales to be completed by the end of calendar 2020. However, we will not rush the process.”

3. See How 'Social Selling' Works

Derek Alexander, rural equipment salesperson for Wright Implement, Owensboro, Ky., has found a mix of automated and personal contact sales strategies to let him be available to his customers 24x7.

He’s finding success through “social” selling strategies, including his own mobile app and Facebook page. He is also available after hours through automated text messaging. Those tools help him drive urgency toward a purchase while being more accessible to his customers, providing the information they need when they need it.

4. Download this 'Safe Passage Letter' from WEDA

As more and more dealerships find themselves covered by executive orders issued by cities, counties, and states that require citizens to “shelter in place,” dealers will need to assess whether they qualify as “essential businesses,” “exempt businesses” or similar terms that allow their employees to travel and continue to report to work.  

For dealers in jurisdictions that qualify as essential or exempt businesses, we have prepared a “safe passage” letter for dealers to provide to their essential employees who will be asked to continue working in dealership facilities in locations that are covered by these orders. Most locales have stated they do not foresee aggressively enforcing these orders by pulling over vehicles or the like, but our concern is that enforcement may tighten up if the COVID-19 spread continues and businesses are too aggressive in how they conclude what is “essential.” 

5. Lastec Introduces World's Biggest Zero Turn Mower

Lastec introduces the world’s biggest zero turn mower with the 120” cutting width WZ1000 flex deck commercial zero turn mower. The WZ1000 joins the Lastec range of commercial and golf course mowers known throughout the world for a premium quality of cut with independently flexing decks. Built in the USA and starting at $48,900 USD, the WZ1000 provides up to 8.73 acres/hour coverage to fit the wide area production needs of commercial landscapers, lawn care professionals, sports fields, and golf courses.

Featuring a massive 120” cutting width, five 25" flex decks, and zero turn maneuverability, the Lastec WZ1000 commercial zero turn mower cuts with the accuracy of five small push mowers at the speed and production of a zero turn wide area mower. The WZ1000 includes five independently flexing decks with up to 24° of total up/down motion for superior cut quality in even the most challenging contours and valleys.

6. Claiming the Title of 'Zero-Turn HQ'

Tractor Supply continues to take over your branding. They recently sent out news announcing the company as the “Zero Turn HQ” now that Toro mowers are available, joining their lineup of Cub Cadet and Bad Boy Mowers.

The company has done an outstanding job of connecting with customers. As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” And by that, I mean that if you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to amplify your dealership’s branding.

7. Most and Least Reliable Lawn Tractor Brands

In Consumer Reports’ latest survey of 11,217 subscribers, John Deere takes the top prize as the most reliable brand of lawn tractors and among the more reliable zero-turn-radius mowers. And reliability is key — in our fix-it surveys, readers told us that they're more likely to repair lawn tractors and ZTRs than any other products we ask about, even such big-ticket major appliances as washing machines and refrigerators.

But while several John Deere models, including the John Deere X350-42, $3,200, and the John Deere S240-42 Sport, $2,500, top our riding mower tests, they tend to be pricey, and you'll sacrifice a bit of performance if you zero in on a John Deere ZTR. So how heavily should you weigh reliability when deciding on the best riding mower for your property? Consider these key findings.

8. CDC Offers Strategies for Businesses

The following interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. The guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19.

To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, use only the guidance described below to determine risk of COVID-19. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and be sure to maintain confidentiality of people with confirmed COVID-19. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features of COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing. Updates are available on CDC’s COVID-19 web page.

9. Bad Boy Mowers to Offer Compact Tractors

Bad Boy Mowers announces that its high performance product line will now include compact tractors. In partnership with Kukje Machinery Co., the company will now sell sub-compact and compact tractors at Bad Boy Mowers dealerships throughout the country. The new product line is expected to hit retailers by 2021.

“Our partnership with Kukje Machinery Co. is a strategic partnership that continues our growth strategy in the professional market,” said Phil Pulley, CEO of Bad Boy Mowers. “Designed with commercial customers and property owners in mind, our new Bad Boy Tractors will deliver all the performance customers demand from their utility tractor in a compact, easy-to-use package.”

10. 10 Sales Email Subject Lines To Get An Open, Read and Reply

Many sales trainers talk about the “good ole days” before email when the phone was your weapon of choice. Many even suggest that email has ruined the sales process. I could NOT disagree more. In my sales training workshops, I teach that email is an amazing piece of technology. If used in the right way, it can truly help the sales professional win and grow business. 

Before we get into the best sales subject lines for email success, please allow me to offer three pieces of email sales advice.