From the Desk of Lynn Woolf: November 6, 2012
Dealer pre-registrations were up more than 20% at the recent GIE+Expo, which featured its first Dealer/Distributor Day. That’s a good sign. With manufacturers able to reach consumers directly in so many new ways, it’s important dealers do whatever they can to claim their rightful spot in the sales cycle. The manufacturers we talked to were pleased to see that kind of interest; another sign that bodes well for dealers and their relationship with manufacturers.
There was the expected flurry of product announcements: Kubota introduced its first residential zero turn. John Deere introduced a new line of commercial zero-turn radius mowers. Toro and Exmark introduced new walk-behind wide-area mowers. Newcomer Avant Tecno USA showed off its compact articulated loaders. And, Snapper introduced the first major redesign of its rear engine rider in 50 years.
Speed of operation and quality of the completed job topped the list of features for many. Upgraded models offered sturdier, more serviceable designs. We were watching for product updates related to “green” features and several manufacturers, including Briggs & Stratton, Oregon and CORE Outdoor Power, mentioned lower noise levels during equipment operation, a feature that benefits the rural lifestyle and commercial markets.
Several manufacturers announced mobile applications and online tools, including Toro and Ferris, with Grasshopper announcing their offerings earlier in the year. I’m sure many more will launch this year. It will be interesting to see if the manufacturers offer ways for dealers to tie in to these online offerings. Maybe that’s a question you can ask your manufacturer?
E15 (gasoline with 15% ethanol) was a big topic for many as it becomes available nationwide. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute Board of Directors met with manufacturers at GIE to discuss the issue. The groups are now developing a public relations campaign to help dealers warn consumers of the use of E15 in outdoor power equipment. This shows the important role that dealers play on the front lines with customers. You are the ones who will bear the bad news when engines fail because of E15. We’ll keep you posted on the campaign.
I know this was a sales event, but even so, there was optimism and little reference to this year’s drought. It will rain again and rural lifestylers need the new equipment that is coming to your lots and showrooms.
Go here to see a round-up of videos, photos, news releases and social media updates from the show. We talked to lots of people, so we’ll continue to post videos. And, let us know which products you think will generate the most interest at your dealership.
One more request as we look to 2013. Rural Lifestyle Dealer is now gathering data for our 2013 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey. This one-of-a-kind survey helps us better understand the market and dealer trends and helps you see how your dealership compares with others.
You’ve heard this before, but our survey really will take just a few minutes. Please go here to complete the survey. And, check out what dealers projected last year at this time. Here’s a link to last year’s survey report.
Finally, our thoughts are with the dealers, their families and customers affected by Hurricane Sandy. We know you face a long road of recovery. All of us at Rural Lifestyle Dealer and Lessiter Publications send our prayers.