Looking ahead to 2021, what will your business be focusing on for the first quarter of the new year?
“Who would have guessed at the beginning of 2020 that a Kubota dealership would be busier than just about any restaurant in the U.S.? Those of us in the outdoor equipment business saw tremendous activity due to a number of factors, but in our dealerships we credit it to rural lifestyles customers being stuck at home. With many working from home, little or no leisure travel, little or no local recreation such as eating out or going to high school sporting events, a new focus was found in the yard or woods. Can’t go anywhere on vacation — time to cut up that dead tree. Usually plant a small garden — might as well double it. Normally have a lawn service cut my yard — might as well do it myself.
“Most customers in our target market didn’t see much if any reduction in family income. But most found expenses went down due to limitations of options to spend discretionary income on. An addition to the fleet of power equipment was an easy choice for many that provided hours of outdoor activity in a year that begged for things to do. I myself bought a log splitter and I don’t even have a wood burning fireplace!
“We, like many power equipment dealerships, benefited from stay at home orders in 2020. What about 2021 and the years beyond? There are many opinions on the effect of the pandemic on consumer behavior, but no matter how much I love to travel, and I’ve traveled the world extensively, I probably will not go anywhere very exotic in 2021, no matter how cheap the deal is. I believe there are many like me who will choose to stay home instead of spending the night in a hotel, taking a flight somewhere far away or even watching a Packer game at my favorite watering hole. If my behavior is representative of our target market, I believe 2021 will continue to be good for the outdoor power equipment business. I believe this positive momentum started in June or July of this year and is still on the rise. If life gets back to normal for most things by the time school starts in the fall of 2021, we may see business taper off some. However, I do believe that there will be a fundamental shift in consumer behavior that will continue to benefit stay at home activities vs. travel. I believe the power equipment industry is better positioned than the travel/hospitality industries for years, not months.”
—Leo Johnson, Johnson Tractor, Janesville, Wis.
“Farmers Implement & Irrigation equipment sales team will be focusing on continuing to reduce our aged equipment and purchasing trades for the right price in order to sell the trades quickly. Our service team will be focused on improving efficiency in the shop. Our parts team will be focusing on reviewing inventory levels to make sure we have the correct parts on hand when our customers need them.”
—Michele Lewandowski, Farmers Implement & Irrigation, Brookings, S.D.
“Our focus for 2021 is building internal structure and processes for future growth with emphasis on enhanced customer service.”
—Kenny Bergmann, S&H Farm Supply, Lockwood, Mo.
“We see ourselves busy this first quarter completing what did not get finished in the fourth quarter. Our business, like most other dealers, was above average and brisk to say the least. If we had it in stock, we could sell it. Our suppliers are still running at full speed trying to supply us all with equipment for our retail orders. They will be until spring and even later. We had to turn down a good deal of year end buying because of no equipment availability.
“Hopefully, this first quarter we can work to try to recoup some of these sales to those buyers who were not able to fill their needs elsewhere. The issue will still be the empty pipelines of units to deliver. I see our manufacturers delivering the inventory this winter and into spring to fill our backed up retailed orders. Those units would ordinarily fill our lots for spring sales, thus I think that inventory will be very tight well into spring.
“The question is at what quantity level do we place orders for stock inventory? 2020 sales were so high that maybe everyone has their buying done already and will not need any more. Maybe with the election results everyone will be too scared to spend any money. Maybe high demand will continue because it was so rapid this fall. Who knows!
“We have continued to play it safe with new unit orders. We have continued to use prior years’ sales averages as our mark. Maybe too high, maybe too low, but not to either extreme. We’re playing it safe!”
—Larry Krystowski, Krystowski Tractor Sales Inc., Wellington, Ohio
“There’s a lot of energy around the launch of our new website. We saw opportunity to create a new site that would take advantage of modern ecommerce opportunities, deliver more robust content to help customers make confident buying decisions, and create a more seamless customer experience, both digital and in-person.
“One of our biggest challenges in being a large, diverse company is how we can be relevant in the markets we serve. Another area where we see a lot of opportunity for better connection with customers is social media, focusing on how we can be more socially relevant.”
—Ted Horan, RDO Equipment, Fargo, N.D.