Thank you to all the dealers who participated in our 2016 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey. We’re analyzing the data now and will share the results in our winter issue. Spoiler alert: 2016 looks to be another positive year and we’ll post breakdowns about how good is good, the hottest product categories and what economic and business issues dealers are watching for in the coming year.

Before we look ahead, let’s look back for a moment. As the year comes to an end, did your forecasts for 2015 become a reality? For instance, in our 2015 survey, 47% of those who responded expected revenues to be up 2-8% or more. Aftermarket revenue was expected to be even higher this year, with 55.3% of responding dealers expecting gains of 2-8% or more.

Here is what you thought were the top 5 products that offered the most potential to increase sales:

  1. Zero-turn mowers

  2. Tractors under 40 horsepower

  3. Tractors 40-100 horsepower

  4. Rotary cutters

  5. Utility vehicles

And here are the products categories you had planned to add:

  1. Tractors under 40 horsepower

  2. Tractors 40-100 horsepower

  3. Skid steer loaders

  4. Utility vehicles

  5. Zero-turn mowers

In the survey, we also asked dealers about how they planned to grow and I’m interested to hear from you about whether new growth opportunities showed up this year. When we asked about expansion, dealers had varying opinions.

A dealer from New York said, “One quality dealership — well managed — that successfully addresses the primary area of responsibility is sustainable.” While a Texas dealer shared this, “We plan to focus in the next 2-3 years on our location, then acquire additional locations in the area. We want to secure sales and service in a larger area, and it’s only possible with multiple locations that are strategically placed around the target area.”

Beyond the metrics and financial analysis of the year, consider asking yourselves these 3 questions as you evaluate 2015 (adapted from an Entrepreneur magazine story).

1. Did I help someone else succeed?

Building up skills and confidence in your team can relieve some of your workload.

2. What motivated me this year?

Enthusiasm really is contagious. Think about the times of the year when you felt energized and figure out what exactly was happening and then work to duplicate it.

3. What do I need to let go of?

Goal setting is important for driving growth, but so is an honest reflection of how you’re going about achieving those goals. For instance, maybe you just need to set aside more time to achieve a goal.

The next few weeks are going to be extra busy as you work to make those last sales of 2015. Enjoy it!