A visit to Wright Brothers Implement Sales and a discussion with second generation owner Myra Powell got me thinking about this line, “A good salesperson can sell anything.” Can that line of thought be extended to “A good dealership can sell anything?”

Ottis (Myra’s father) and Marvin Wright began the dealership in 1962 in Borden, Ind., carrying the Oliver tractor line. There have been lots of changes since then, including deciding to cancel the contracts for the Oliver and later Mahindra lines. 

They added the Grasshopper line to the Farm King and Vicon lines they already carried and decided to expand into hardware to meet community demand.

Powell explains that the new manufacturer requirements for the Mahindra tractor line didn’t make good business sense for them. She shows much pride in her independent business, regardless of the manufacturer signs displayed out front. Perhaps that’s because of her historic place in the family-owned dealership — she remembers climbing ladders to get parts and can still stand at the same counter, worn from years of transactions, where her dad and uncle stood.

“Accept unplanned adaptation…”

There are lots of dealerships that have been through similar scenarios. An acceptance of unplanned adaptation, like Powell has done, is a necessary attitude in the equipment industry. Ag dealerships have long felt the pressure of manufacturer requirements and rural equipment dealers are feeling it as well.

Shawn Skaggs, president and CEO of Livingston Machinery of Chickasha, Okla., and a contributor to Rural Lifestyle Dealer, says, “We always have to be thinking about that. New requirements in manufacturer agreements are becoming less and less advantageous to dealers and we have to plan for what would happen to the dealership if we didn’t have a particular line. We have to design our marketing and the way we do business around a unique selling proposition.”

For Livingston Machinery, that’s 24/7 parts and service. And, they follow a practice of dual marketing campaigns, one for their dealership and another for the lines they carry. “Your customers should want to do business with you because of the way you do business, not just because of the lines you carry,” Skaggs says.

So, a challenge for you as we wrap up 2019, “Can your dealership adapt if you lose your major line?” We’ll take our own challenge and provide the strategies you need to successfully adapt if that scenario becomes a reality in 2020 or beyond.