Suburban Sprawl Reaches Farther Into Rural Communities
April 15, 2014
Suburban sprawl has been reaching farther and farther into rural communities for years and changing the makeup of those communities. For one Indiana dealership, that sprawl meant it no longer was serving its customers as well as it used to.
Reynold’s Farm Equipment, a John Deere dealership with six locations in Indiana, one in Ohio and one Kentucky, found that after decades of operating a store in Fischers, Ind., it was no longer surrounded by the rural community that was there when it opened its doors in 1955. Instead, it was now in the midst of a busy suburban community. The growth of the community meant it was now difficult for Reynold’s farm customers, and employees, to transport large ag equipment on the busy roads of the town.
The situation wasn’t working for Reynolds or its customers, so in an effort to better service its customers the dealership moved its headquarters to a brand new facility about 20 miles north to a more rural area in Atlanta, Ind. In addition to being more accessible to customers, the new 83,000-square-foot facility is also going to include a public eatery named The Combine Café, set to open in May. The Fishers store will remain open as a lawn and garden center.
While building a brand new facility and relocating might not be a necessary step for all dealers to better serve their customers, this story does serve as a good lesson in the importance of evaluating how in touch you are with your customer base and their needs. Do you know your customers preferred method of communication? Some farmers may prefer that you send them a text message, while others still want a good old fashion phone call. Whatever their preference though, it’s to your benefit to know which way you should be contacting them to improve their customer experience.
Are your business hours conducive to your customer? Perhaps the dealership opens its doors at 8, but customers would rather be in at 7. Also keep in mind that if you also sell lawn and garden equipment, that customer base likely keeps a much different schedule than your farm customers and might prefer having an option to come in on their way home from work. While you can’t keep your dealership open 24 hours a day, maybe adding a day or two with extended hours — in the morning and/or evening — is something your customers would like to see. But, you can’t know if you don’t ask. Communicating with your customers, whether it’s through conversations or formal surveys, is the best way to know that you are providing the service and customer experience they expect.