When a roundtable of dealer representatives were asked for the first few words that come to mind when hearing the word jockey, responses were all over the map. Some were kinder, mentioning “expert” or “resource,” while plenty of others went the route of “opportunist” and “necessary evil.”
Regardless of perception, the majority of attendees agreed that having strong relationships with jockeys is essential for maximizing a dealership’s customer base, regardless of the state of the industry. Through the discussion, jockeys were classified under two camps: the type who buys and fixes up equipment with no dedication to a particular main line or shortline, and then the type who facilitates transactions, linking up farmers with dealerships that can fill a specific need while taking a cut of the profit. The latter type dominated most of the conversation.
An Undeniable Resource
Several dealers were envious of the jockey lifestyle, specifically their ability to visit auctions daily. In doing so, they can acquire knowledge on not only the true value of machines, but also the strongest leads on where to sell.
“Most of these guys are experts in relocation,” one participant says. “They can take machines from one wholesale arena to another and have success doing so. That’s the expertise we tap into, and ultimately, we hire jockeys into our own staff.”
With constant communication and fluidity being the themes for top jockeys, a superior pulse on the industry is often inevitable. With the right jockey on one’s side, dealerships can capitalize on the latest trend before the competition, as noted by most attendees.
“When we as a dealership are more focused on results from the past 6 months, they may be looking at results from the past 6 days,” one dealer says.
A Two-Way Street
While the benefits of a credible jockey are undisputable, dealers can make the fatal mistake of taking them for granted. A common way to sully a strong relationship is a lack of transparency with any equipment issues.
As multiple attendees pointed out, the best jockeys are reputation managers, so if they are left in the dark on a mechanical issue and appear unprofessional to the end-customer, they won’t soon forget being wronged by a dealership.
“You can’t just use jockeys as a post, and I’ve got some salespeople that don’t understand that,” one attendee says. “Most jockeys want to do good business and can’t wrong everybody they talk to, but they aren’t afraid to burn you back if you burn them first.”