Rural Lifestyle Dealer magazine is celebrating our 10th year of covering the rural equipment market with this special anniversary issue. Congratulations to you as well for targeting this growing segment.

In this issue, we look back at some of the best ideas dealers have shared over the years and look ahead with our analysis of the 2016 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey.

Sometimes, it’s good to look way ahead — at emerging “megatrends” — to ensure your future as a rural equipment dealer is not based on catching up. Professional services firm Ernst & Young recently outlined 6 megatrends and it’s easy to see how these global trends relate to challenges dealers are facing today.

1. Digital Future: This trend is characterized by anytime, anywhere access to information as well as “connectedness” within a business. Rural lifestyle dealers are looking at new ways to serve a segment that seeks personalized information from them outside of normal business hours. And, dealers are investing in business systems to be more effective in how they use customer and sales data.

2. Entrepreneurship Rising: The trend shows that entrepreneurs are increasingly young and/or female. Dealers can tap into the trend through two segments you already serve, landscape contractors and small acreage farmers.

According to the research firm IBISWorld, over the next 5 years, the growth in housing will lead to increased demand for landscapers. The latest USDA Census of Agriculture shows nearly 40% of farms are less than 50 acres. And, dealerships are paying more attention to the female buyer as a decision-maker.

3. Global Marketplace: Stay in tune with what your manufacturers are doing to address global trends. Ernst & Young says that China and India are emerging as large sources of foreign direct investments, with innovation coming from rapid-growth markets, specifically Asia.

4. Urban World: The report says that global urbanization will continue and urban areas will have greater spending power. Many dealers are seeing farmland being developed for housing or commercial ventures. This means more customers who need compact and outdoor power equipment as well as increased opportunities with new homeowners.

5. Resourceful Planet: A growing global population will put increased demand on natural resources at a time when extreme weather, such as long-term droughts, further stresses the environment.

The industry is already adapting with “green” solutions, such as increased options for battery-powered equipment. Promote other ways the equipment you sell is environmentally friendly.

6. Health Reimagined: Controlling costs, improving outcomes and expanding access are three major concerns. According to our ey, healthcare programs and costs ranks among the top issues you are most concerned about. You may find new solutions from companies that are forming or evolving to address these challenges.

These trends show that the future is always closer than we think. Keep these transformative changes in mind as you develop long-term business plans.

See Your Future

Your future just might include being named the 2016 Dealership of the Year. Click here to download the nomination form. The deadline for nominations is March 10, 2016, so send in your nominations soon.

To mark our anniversary, our columnist and nationally recognized consultant Bob Clements is offering a special consultation package for the recipient. (Click here to view the details.) This is your year to shine.