Question: Do you plan to do anything differently to increase dealership revenues in 2015?
I am really looking forward to 2015. We will probably do what we do best — deal with the livestock producer and the smaller acreage farms. We have done this for years. Yes, we did serve some of the larger farms with tillage tools in the past, but I think that has probably come to an end.
“We’ll scale back inventory on expensive tillage tools. I’m very optimistic on hay and small horsepower tractors. We have a good order bank of hay tools and more than normal orders for small horsepower tractors. It will be a good year for us.
“On the parts and service end, we have added additional people on the parts counter anticipating the grain farmers needing extra repair parts for the equipment they aren’t trading. It looks like this year our parts sales with AGCO will be up by about 15%.”
— Jeff Suchomski, Suchomski Implement, Pickneyville, Ill.
“We saw this coming and decided that it was imperative to fill the Product Support Sales Rep position that we had been considering for some time. I think we got a good person into the position that can boost aftermarket sales. Time will tell!”
— Bill Stannard, Wellington Implement, Wellington, Ohio
“We’ll try hard to maintain good customer relationships by offering solutions to increase yield and profits. We will work on creating a team concept working together to increase profits.”
— Jay Gainer, Messick Farm Equipment, Elizabethtown, Pa.
“Our plan is to limit orders on big ticket new items so as not to be stuck in the slower sales cycle with interest bearing units in stock. We will be treating used trade-ins much more carefully so as not to be upside-down as used prices correct. We will also be emphasizing the segments of the business that are not being as negatively impacted by the nationwide downturn in ag, including sugar beet producers, cattle and hay producers and specialty crops. In addition, we will be renewing our focus on customer service during this expected slow period to strengthen our relationships in preparation for the recovery when it comes.”
— Greg Wilson, Heart Mountain Farm Supply, Powell, Wyo.
“No plans to do anything different to increase revenue as we try to do that every year.”
— Mike Meyer, Meyer Implement, Bowling Green, Mo.
“As we look into 2015, we expect to be working more of the total account. We’re analyzing how much parts business we should be expecting from customers and what they’re not buying from us. Then we’re going out to find out where they are buying those parts and what we can do to get that business.”
— George Keen, New Virginia Tractor, Charlottesville, Va.
“Two of our wholegoods salespeople were recently promoted to other positions within our dealership, so we are looking for a couple good salespeople to replace them. We are working on improving the efficiency of our parts and service operations. We deal primarily with rural lifestyle people, so we haven’t faced the headwinds that the ‘cash grain’ people have had to deal with.”
— Mike McCrate, Tulsa New Holland Inc., Tulsa, Okla.
“2015 is going to present some challenges that we haven’t seen in the equipment sector in a few years. The equipment fleet across western Canada is as current as it has ever been. As a result, the urgency we have seen from producers to update equipment has leveled off. In order to grow our business, we will need to focus on value-added services and also get back to being more proactive as a sales team. The focus will be on building and cultivating relationships and proactively offering solutions to producers BEFORE they ask for them. We will need to work hard at driving the bus when it comes to the sales process instead of being passengers on it.
“The exception to this slowdown in machinery acquisition is going to be the livestock sector, particularly the traditional cattle producer. After several years of marginal returns, those producers are seeing greater returns and, as a result, are updating their fleet the way the grain producers have been for the past few years. These stronger markets and pent up demand should bode well for small ag and haying equipment sales for the foreseeable future.”
— Arthur Ward, JayDee Ag Tech, Swift Current, Saskatchewan
“Yes we plan to change our marketing plans. We will concentrate more on the smaller and medium-size farmer and pay closer attention to lower horsepower tractors and equipment. We’ll also improve marketing of skid steers and light industrial equipment, as well as encourage rental and leasing to help get equipment into customers’ businesses and farms. We have to make sure we sell and stock the correct inventory that meets the needs of customers in a timely manner. Finally, we’ll concentrate on after market business.”
— Curt Hanson, Mid-State Equipment, Columbus, Wis.
“I believe the partial answer is to decrease expenses for 2015, as we have no control over the price of corn that the producer is receiving or the crazy prices that the manufacturers are charging for their iron. Also, I feel that even the price of parts from the major manufacturers is going up at an all-time rate. The major manufacturing companies use customer service as a slogan only and care only about shareholder equity, not the welfare of the selling dealer or the end user — the customer — who is the most important link in this chain.”
— Donald Angstadt, Pikeville Equipment, Oley, Pa.
“No big adjustments that we wouldn’t do in a normal year, but we are out of the production ag market. We are no longer Case IH wholegoods dealers. We have Kubota, Mahindra and Vermeer, along with several other shortlines, so we are enjoying sales due to high beef prices.”
— Jon Crockett, Burke Truck Tractor, Waynesboro, Ga.
“With all the brisk activities we have seen in the past 5 years, I feel the industry has lost the art of true selling. Our focus to increase revenues next year is to get back to basics and perfect the art of selling value instead of price. That way we can generate the same margin dollars even if the market place becomes apprehensive and unit sales decrease. Fewer deals but more margin per deal sounds good to me!”
— Darren Nickel, Greenvalley Equipment, Morden, Manitoba
“Growing revenue in 2015 is not a problem for me. I sold my dealerships to Sloan’s this summer. Got out ahead of the downturn and now have the same problem as other retired dealers. I am pushing for interest rates to go up after 57 years of looking for low rates.”
— Ron Stevens, Stevens Implement Co., Petersburg, Ill.
“We’ll do more aggressive and targeted marketing and follow up. We are also looking at providing some unique financing structures for our customers that will help facilitate increased equipment and repair purchases.”
— Josef Powell, Mapex LLC, Orlando, Fla.
“We see big things changing for 2015. The market for big new equipment has dried up. Late model big front-wheel drive, if priceed right, is selling. We sold 10 this mouth. Tillage is selling with big rebates. The smaller dealership will weather this storm OK but the bigger the dealership, the bigger the problem. We just came out 0% free for 5 years with a free trip to Waikiki. We’re going to have to think out of the box on this one.”
— Steven Swartzrock, Swartzrock Implement, Charles City, Iowa
“Ag West is expanding into some new products (niche markets) that we have not participated in before, including nut harvesting equipment, tiling equipment and special dimension tractors for the nut harvest.”
— Steve Danner, Ag West Supply, Rickreall, Ore.
“We are over loaded with new tillage inventory that did not sell in the spring and we are getting frozen out too soon this fall (now winter). We will be ordering much more cautiously on unsold product. Large new tractor inventory is also too high, so that will impact orders. Used equipment sales have been our homerun, so we will strengthen our efforts on that portion of business. We will be trying to control expenses first. Increasing margin and/or sales is tough to do in this economic climate.”
— Bob Weagant, Weagant Farm Supplies, Winchester, Ontario
“We just took on a new U.S. built, high-end utility vehicle line. I am hoping that we can capture some business we weren’t getting. Plus, it is something that doesn’t require rain to sell.”
— Rick Balles, Bill’s Tractor and Equipment, Adkins, Texas
“We’ll need sales to beat the bushes much harder and pay more attention to the customers’ needs, if that is possible. Offer more incentives for parts and labor before the end of January. We’re cutting back to a 32 hour week through February in a rotation.”
— David Stevens, Eastern Service Corp., Cambridge, Md.
“We are somewhat immune to commodity pricing swings being in a highly concentrated dairy area, so my response could be somewhat different than most. We will have to contend with dealer auctions more than ever. That is what we will be competing against for the next year or two with both new and used equipment. We are still taking trades, but are asking our sales guys to make sure they are traded really right. This could be an advantage as some dealers are refusing to take trades. I have a theory: ‘Everything sells at a price, now you need to accurately determine what that price is.’ Our guys will be asked to be out visiting customers more than ever to help solidify our relationships for when times do improve. We will also have a parts and service mentality and help to push those areas within the business. Business as usual, but with a cautious mindset.”
— Dave Colvin, Lowe & Young Inc., Wooster, Ohio
“We are engaging the entire dealership in finding new parts and service growth opportunities. Customers are keeping equipment longer than they have in the last 5 years, so the opportunity for parts and service sales will increase in 2015. We are also engaging our employees in a campaign to find new business opportunities that we are not currently focused on. We engaged them 24 months ago and came up with a list that included over $30M in potential sales opportunities. Times were busy then and we did not capitalize on all of these, so we are dusting this off and reenergizing them in seeking new business.”
— Jeremy Ostrander, AgriVision Group, Pacific Junction, Iowa
“Let’s just say that after coming home from a MacDon meeting in Nashville and talking to other CNH dealers, there seems to be a strong swing in the mindset of the dealers toward their major supplier. One dealer that owns 7 stores summed it up by saying he had to figure a way to get more out of their shortline companies and make them the major income source until CNH fixes its inventory and pricing issues.”
— Lance Carlson, Quincy Tractor, Quincy, Ill.
“While most predictions are that revenues will decrease in 2015, which may very well be true, there are a lot of factors that could come into play that would lead one to think differently. However, the question being what will we do differently, the simplest answer is we have to be ‘smartly creative.’ By this I mean we need to make sure we focus where the money is. There will be demand coming at all of us differently, and how we manage that demand will go a long way to our success in growing revenues in 2015.”
— Mark Foster, Birkey’s Farm Store, Bloomington, Ill.