From the Desk of Lynn Woolf: June 4, 2013

Watch Lynn's Editorial Blog for June 4 Here:

If I said this column was about safety would you click away? Well, it is about safety, one of those “I’ve heard it before” topics. But, it’s also about sales and reputation, so stay with me. First, here’s some background from a news article from, a news source for the residents, part-time homeowners, visitors and boating community of Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.

“A Sunrise Beach resident was moving landscaping rock and dumping it near a seawall, down a drive ramp, with a rental Deere utility tractor. Apparently, the tractor slid down the ramp, over the seawall and into the lake with the operator still aboard. Fortunately, when the tractor rolled onto its right side, a safety bar prevented it from turning upside down and the man was able to escape mostly unscathed, with perhaps the exception of a bruised ego.”

This story has a good ending, the person was safe. Even the tractor made it back on land, with the help of a salvage company. Many more accident stories have worse, even horrific endings. This is where you and safety come into the discussion.

We all agree that teaching rural lifestylers about safe operation is part of running an ethical business. After all, a rural lifestyler transitioning from a push mower to tractor and rotary cutter is the equivalent of a teenager transitioning from bicycle to automobile. They have to be taught proper use because the experience and instincts aren’t there. And mistakes can be life-changing and life-ending.

Tractor Accident
The scene of a recent accident at Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. The driver was unharmed.
Photo Courtesy of

Take advantage of this opportunity to make safety discussions about more than procedures. For instance, automobile manufacturers tout vehicle safety features in advertising. Safety can be a differentiator for the equipment you sell and for your dealership. It offers a way to build rapport with a customer when you show how the equipment has been made safe for their family members to use.

Then, don’t just talk about safety, but model it. Make sure your employees are wearing seat belts or using proper safety gear when demonstrating equipment. Establish safety procedures for how equipment is loaded and delivered. (A bonus: it will help prevent workplace accidents.)

Think safety when you participate in special events this summer, such as parades and county fairs. Don’t get caught giving kids tractor rides, for instance. Always remember that your customers and potential customers are watching.

I realize you don’t have control over how people use the equipment you sell, no matter how much training you provide. Just today, for instance, I saw a municipal worker riding in the bucket of a front-loader. But, don’t miss any chance to protect the families in your community and avoid the news story that shows your brand linked to an accident.

Make safety part of the sale. Your customers will respect you for it.

Check out these resources for how to include safety in your sales discussions. The link also includes safety checklists you can share with your customers.

Lynn Woolf,
Managing Editor
Rural Lifestyle Dealer