“Central Equipment serves 3 distinct markets between the horse farms, commercial lawn and turf contractors and homeowners. Our sales are split is about 40% small agriculture, which is mostly horse farms, and 25% homeowners and 35% commercial users. This means we need to market differently to each one.

“First, I wouldn’t trade my our location for anyplace else. We have a high income demographic with homeowners who will pay for quality equipment. The outdoor equipment market is huge for us. We are annually in the Top 10 dealers for both Exmark and Stihl.

“I’m proud of the marketing we’ve done here and I believe were doing a much smarter job with our advertising. Usually, we invest 3-4% of our sales on advertising, marketing and promotion. And we’ve been doing things online for the past few years that we haven’t seen a lot of dealerships doing quite yet.

These are things I learned while working at Pace Distributing. They hired Todd Riley, who did website design, online marketing and social media for several automobile manufactures before being brought in by Pace. It benefited me because I learned so much about Google and Bing searches and how websites work with search engine optimization.

“When I returned to Central Equipment a little over 2 years ago, I found the dealership had the same website it introduced in the early ‘90s. Since I’ve returned, we’re on our second redesign of our new website. We developed it with ARI, which specializes in website and software for dealers.

“One of the best things we’ve done is offer online parts sales, which has been very successful for us. Besides lawn and garden parts, we’ve been particularly successful with our online ag parts sales. We’re offering parts for Woods, Land Pride and even some Deere stuff. We saw that a lot of the mega farm equipment dealers were really bumping the price of their parts, so we decided we would sell them at MSRP.

“Our advertising message is, ‘Check your local dealer and then check our pricing.’ We’ve been sending parts all over the United States. The new site just launched about 2 months ago and it’s been wildly successful.

“Customers and technology go hand in hand, and dealers who don’t have a strong website that’s not performing well or they’re not marketing themselves online are missing the boat. Many people don’t want to go to a brick and mortar place to shop or just for information. They go to websites. And if you’re not on the first page of Google search, you’re pretty much missing the boat all together. You must have a strong website with a lot of content to get people into your store.