From the Desk of Lynn Woolf: February 25, 2014

One of the best parts of covering the equipment industry is talking with dealers. With every issue, I become more impressed with the work ethic of the dealers I talk with and their honesty about their manufacturers, new equipment, their customers as well as the job we’re doing.

We also seek out your opinions in electronic surveys throughout the year. I hope you’ve had a chance to read the article in our winter issue that features an overview of the 2014 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey. If you missed the print edition, here’s a link to the digital issue.


We also survey a group of dealers after each issue to gather feedback on specific articles. Here’s one comment from a dealer after reading our fall issue, in which we profiled our dealership of the year: “I am concerned that you have become enamored with the large, multi-location dealerships as opposed to the single location, small, possibly family-owned and operated dealerships.”

That comment came to mind after interviews this past week. I talked to two dealerships that were single store and family owned. They showed that success is not driven by number of locations, how fancy your dealership is or what kind of marketing budget you have or don’t have.

We delved into the topic of large vs. small dealerships in our 2014 Trends survey. The complete results will be available soon in our full 38-page report. Here are a few highlights I found interesting.

Small Dealerships
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Large Dealerships
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Both large and small dealerships are optimistic about revenue growth for 2014, although each segment differs slightly on where they expect that growth to come from. Small dealerships (those with 20 or fewer employees) are more optimistic about overall growth, with about 61% expecting revenue increases of 2-8% or more. That compares with 56% of large dealerships (those with 21 or more employees) forecasting the same increases for 2014.

However, large dealerships are more optimistic about increases in aftermarket revenue. More than 72% of large dealerships expect revenue from parts and service to increase by 2-8% or more, compared with about 56% of small dealerships expecting similar revenue increases.

Here’s another interesting statistic. More than 60% of customers have a brand in mind most of the time or almost always when they visit a small dealership, compared with about 55% for large dealerships. And, small dealerships say more than 71% of customers follow their recommendations most of the time, compared with 58% for large dealerships.

On another topic, small and large dealerships are in complete agreement. The top 2 concerns for both groups are healthcare program costs and finding good employees.

If you’d like to see a copy of the complete report, please call or email me.

Please keep sharing your honest opinions. And we’ll keep seeking out and sharing ideas from all sizes and kinds of dealerships — the best of the best.

On the topic of “best,” have you nominated your dealership for our 2014 Dealership of the Year? Here’s the link. The deadline is March 3 and the nomination process takes only a few minutes.

Back to the topic of being enamored with large, multi-location dealerships for Dealership of the Year. The award process starts with you and ends with a dealer who is setting the bar for excellence, regardless of size. So, big or small, nominate your dealership today to be considered for this year’s honor. 

Lynn Woolf,
Managing Editor
Rural Lifestyle Dealer