From the Desk of Lynn Woolf

Lynn Woolf, Managing Editor

We're at the midpoint for 2012 already. Is the year stacking up like you planned or hoped?

Last fall, you shared your 2012 projections with us at Rural Lifestyle Dealer. You were optimistic then. Nearly half of North American dealers serving the rural lifestyle market expected revenues to rise this year.

Specifically, you identified these top five products as your best prospects for increasing revenues:

RL Dealers' Change in Total Revenue

1. Utility vehicles
2. Tractors (< 40 horsepower)

3. Zero-turn mowers

4. Rotary cutters

5. Tractors (40-100 horsepower)

What are you seeing today at your dealership compared with six months ago? Do your rural lifestyle consumers still think utility vehicles are a must-have? Maybe it’s that souped-up model with the dump bed or extra seat. What about tractor sales? Are the smaller horsepower tractors leading sales, as you predicted? Regardless of size, tractors remain the mainstay — 32.4% of you expected to add tractors in the less than 40 and in the 40-100 horsepower ranges.

Now, with the year in full swing, new concerns are surfacing in the field. Recent stats from our sister publication Ag Equipment Intelligence and Cleveland Research Co. show that a net 4% of dealers now categorize their used inventory levels as “too high” (25% too high; 47% about right; 29% too low) compared to a net 1% last month.

Perhaps this is due to the nature of sales this time of year, with trade-ins affecting inventory levels. Regardless, it’s smart thinking to track and manage. We’ll keep watch, too, and let you know about trends nationwide, so you can see how you're comparing.

One final note on stats: Last fall, 38% of you were very concerned about competition from Big Box stores. And, yet, 50% percent of you were not concerned at all. We'll continue to look at the Big Box "effect" and share dealership success stories. Tell us yours.

Thanks for checking in.

Lynn Woolf,
Managing Editor
Rural Lifestyle Dealer