Farm Equipment asked Currie Management's George Keen for some observations on peer-to-peer groups for farm equipment dealers. Here's what he had to say…

"Dealer principals have no peers in their own business. They need to manage all the decisions frequently on their own. Salespeople have other sales people, technicians other technicians, managers other managers, but where is the other boss in the business? Who does the principal unload to? This is one purpose dealers have mentioned about the peer-to-peer sharing in the groups.

"Looking at your own house, you forget about the cracked windows, light bulbs that need replacing and torn seat covers. When other dealers come to look at your house, they're amazed at what you do and don't do. And since they also have a business like yours, they can appreciate what you have to work with. This informed view from the outside gives a lot of valuable insight and observation about a dealership.

"Frequently, participation in a group, with all expenses included, can be an investment from $5,000-$10,000 depending on where the meetings are, where the dealership is located and how much additional time you spend on each trip. But dealers have come to me over the last 12 years and told me that it is one of the best business investments they've ever made. One dealer described to other members in his group how they price shop quotes at their dealership. Most of the other members were amazed at how simple it was and went back to implement it.

"Two dealers from that group not only implemented the change, but tracked the increased revenue. One dealer garnered an extra $485,000 in one year and the other collected more than $312,000. These were not unusual results from the variety of ideas that dealers share in these meetings.

"Just this week a dealer contacted me and other dealer members about ideas for confidentiality and non-compete regarding new hires he is working on. Another dealer just emailed the group looking for a specific model used sprayer. The peer-to-peer group becomes not only a resource, but a board of directors and a great network to improve your business."