“Subject matter experts are the new rainmakers.” That’s the No. 1 business trend for 2017, according to a Forbes.com columnist. That’s what I intended to write about because it speaks of so much potential for rural lifestyle dealerships, which are loaded with experts.

However, as I thought about this “big picture,” I couldn’t stop thinking back to a recent experience at a dealership. What did happen and what should have happened could be a much stronger indicator of a dealership’s future.

I visited a dealership to buy mower parts and when leaving, walked past a used UTV parked outside in a corner. I wasn’t looking for a UTV, but the condition and the price caught my attention. And, that’s when the experience began to fall apart for me.

I went into the dealership and had to wait for a salesperson to be paged. He came out and did an OK job of talking about the UTV, but soon quickly switched to why I should take a look at the row of new UTVs. So, we walked over and started discussing how I planned to use the vehicle, features and prices. From there, the salesperson handed me some brochures and a note with some price ranges. And, I left.

Was it an awful encounter? No, but there were cues that were missed. I didn’t come into the dealership looking for a UTV. It was the good condition of the older model and the attractive used price that caught my attention. The salesperson didn’t take my name and didn’t hand me his card. There was no way for him to follow up with me and I lost interest in following up with him. However, I’m now on the search for used UTVs at other dealerships.

Maybe the salesperson thought he was doing me a favor. Perhaps the condition wasn’t as good as I thought. Most likely, it was in his or the dealership’s best interest to move new machines before the end of the year. All in all, a sale was lost; future service on an older machine was lost; and the dealership experience turned out to be lackluster.

Striking a Balance

It’s important to pay attention to the big picture — trends and forecasts — to make sure you’re aware of opportunities. However, I encourage you to place those trends in the context of a typical day at your dealership. Our 2017 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook Report shows what rural equipment dealers across North America are expecting this year. Total revenue and aftermarket revenue are both expected to be up; markets are growing and product lines are being expanded. Check out the data and analysis. The potential is there for strong growth and paying attention to cues and details can help you make those forecasts a reality.

Dealership of the Year

As you launch your plans for the year, make time to celebrate what you’re doing that will make 2017 even better than the forecasts. Consider entering our 2017 Dealership of the Year program. The recipient earns nationwide recognition and a special package from industry consultant Bob Clements. Go to www.RuralLifestyleDealer.com to learn more. The deadline is March 10.

And, those business trends for 2017? I’ll share more in the coming weeks in our new eBrief Daily newsletter. If you’re not yet receiving our online newsletters, you can subscribe on our website.

Here’s to a 2017 that’s filled with promise for the rural equipment market.


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