From the Desk of Lynn Woolf

Lynn Woolf, Managing Editor

Dealerships have an energy and optimism when the countryside greens up – which can wane as the temperatures rise. This is especially true for rural lifestyle dealers who also serve farmers rushing to finish spring planting or harvest summer grains.

It’s no small challenge to greet every customer with enthusiasm, finish every repair job on schedule, or work hard to make good deals for the rural lifestyler and the dealership. Experts say creating the right underlying company culture can help improve and motivate your team – and keep you successful.

A recent Fast Company article based on the book Passion Capital: The World’s Most Valuable Asset, outlines eight steps to creating a passionate work culture. Several seem particularly suited to the dealership world.

  • Work hard, play hard. “A culture where everyone understands that long hours are sometimes required will work if this sacrifice is recognized and rewarded,” says article author Paul Alofs.

  • Once you have the right people, you need to sit down regularly with them and discuss what is going well and what isn’t.

  • Create the space. Company areas that encourage interaction generate ideas.

Fill me in on how you apply these ideas in your dealership. For instance, companies in other industries offer “summer hours,” where employees can adjust weekly schedules to leave early on Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This probably isn’t an option for you, but how do you reward employees for putting in longer hours?


And, how do you ensure that the person you hired with great credentials is a right fit long-term for your dealership? How do you structure evaluations so the employee doesn’t immediately start looking for a new job?

Finally, the idea of the intersection of space and ideas might be particularly challenging in dealerships where space is meant for equipment and products, not talking. I’m interested in how and where your employees share ideas.

You may not use the term “passionate work culture” at your dealership. However, based on the successful dealerships we talk to every day, we know it’s real.

Speaking of successful dealerships, Rural Lifestyle Dealer honors the best of the best in our Dealership of the Year competition. Here’s what our 2011 winner, Eric Schnelle of S&H Farm Supply, had to say about his recognition.

We’re usually not one to brag, and there are many dealers doing the transition to a rural lifestyle market very well. We’re still a work-in-progress, but it’s great that we got this award, as it shows there are things we’re doing that’s working. It’s an honor that Rural Lifestyle Dealer was interested in those ideas.

Our winner has been selected for 2012 and we’ll announce them soon. Do you have what it takes to be our winner in 2013? Read about our previous award winners. We’ll soon post guidelines – and we’ll watch for your dealership’s nomination.

Lynn Woolf,
Managing Editor
Rural Lifestyle Dealer