Now that we’ve had some time to recover from the contentious 2016 election, it’s a good time to view the campaigns in terms of a case study in what to do — and not to do — if you want to win people over to your side.

Here are four ways to learn from the candidates’ coups and blunders in your own race to win over customers, employees and your manufacturer-partners.

1. You can reinvent yourself again and again.

Just because your dealership brand is well-established doesn’t mean that it’s vibrant. Think of your brand as something living, rather than a one-dimensional logo and tagline. This mindset gives you the freedom to adapt and evolve based on opportunities in your market. Find ways to be “new” to your customers this spring that go beyond offering the latest models.

2. Nothing is off limits.

The rural equipment market promises to have another strong year, based on your forecasts in our annual Dealer Business Trends & Outlook Report. That upward trend has been in place for at least 5 years.

Are you taking advantage of these good times to push beyond your perceived limits? Analyze the boundaries that you currently operate under and then inch past those lines in all your departments. And, consider the limitations you have in place for yourself. For instance, try off-loading some daily management duties to free up time for strategic planning.

3. Don’t assume.

You may think you’re the obvious choice for those seeking to buy equipment in your area. What could it mean for your dealership if you didn’t assume that? Think of the extra effort you and your team would pay to every customer, every display and every repair, and how that effort could pay off.

4. Make big promises — and keep them.

Candidates are known for their big promises as they lay out their grand plans for change. It’s good to think in terms of big promises, like 100% customer satisfaction and 0% employee turnover, as long as you build in follow-through. Work backward through interactions with unsatisfied customers or disgruntled employees to find the points at which the interaction failed. Then, set up quality controls on your path to perfection.

You’re in Charge

Sometimes, dealers give the impression they’re just a cog in the wheel. Guard against that kind of passive or defeatist attitude. Small, independent businesses drive our country. The 28 million small businesses in America account for 54% of all U.S. sales, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Take pride in that power in conversations with your manufacturers and your customers. They need good dealers like you.

Polling Trends

To make sure we stay in tune with our own “voters,” our readers, the Rural Lifestyle Dealer staff is now posting a poll each Monday in our eBrief Daily online newsletter. We’re seeking your input on a wide range of topics to uncover story ideas and “pinch points.” If you’re not already a subscriber of our daily newsletter, please sign up at

We’ve also launched a new Podcast series as another way to deliver the information you need. The format allows you to listen during drive time, down time or even while multi-tasking.

We hope the new ideas and strategies you’ll find online and in this spring issue will help you get “re-elected” with your customers again and again.


RLD Spring Contents