Rural Lifestyle Dealer sat down with Jon Eis, chief operating officer of John Deere dealer Eis Implement, and got his thoughts on key factors currently impacting the rural lifestyle market, some of the most innovative equipment that’s hit the market in the last 10 years and what he sees as the next big innovations to come in the next decade. He also shares his outlook for the outdoor power equipment market in 2021.
Rural Lifestyle Dealer: What key factors are currently driving buying habits in the market?
Eis: In large ag, we’re seeing optimism from federal relief money. Higher commodity prices have helped drive large ag and UTV sales to farmers and custom operators. In residential equipment, we haven’t had any large snowfalls yet this winter, so residential lawn tractor sales and snow implements have been slow. In commercial business, strong sales wrapped up 2020. Many homeowners have been working from home and had more time to pick apart their homes and yards, so we had some year-end spending from commercial contractors and landscapers for tax purposes.
RLD: What do you think has been the most innovative equipment advancement in the past 10 years?
Eis: Battery technology. The EV race is in full gear in the auto industry. I am excited for the outdoor power equipment industry. I believe battery technology and autonomy will have a much more significant impact on OPE than it will on the auto industry.
RLD: What product innovation do you foresee in the next 10 years?
Eis: Advanced autonomous lawnmowers will be the next big thing.
RLD: What’s your outlook on the outdoor power equipment market for this year and beyond?
Eis: I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. Quite a few sales came this year because families couldn’t go on their typical vacations, so some spent money on a new lawnmower, compact tractor or UTV. With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, I have some concern that families will hang onto their vacation savings and use it on a trip in late 2021 to early 2022.
RLD: What keeps you up at night?
Eis: Employees that struggle to get over their negative thoughts and not buying into a “new” way of doing business. It’s exhausting and time consuming at times to get them on board. Had they gotten onboard right away, then my time would’ve been better spent helping them succeed even more. This is a growth opportunity for me as a leader to be more direct, and I am working on it. I’m also trying to free up more time so I can have more time for conversations and follow through more effectively, too.
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