You may have read that headline and thought, “With the current supply chain issues, the dealership of today already has no inventory!” We’ve talked ad nauseam about the current inventory challenges — both for new and used equipment — dealerships are facing. But what if, in the future, it was the result of purposeful intention?

Ford’s CEO Jim Farley is looking to shake up the dealership experience for Ford’s electric vehicles, according to an article by Steve DaSilva in Jalopnik. In a speech Farley made at Bernstein’s 38th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference, he said under his new plan, dealerships would “get rid of inventory entirely and become high-quality service centers for customers who purchased their vehicles online,” wrote DaSilva. 

According to the Detroit Free Press Farley says, “We’ve got to go to non-negotiated prices. We’ve got to go to 100% online. There’s no inventory ... 100% remote pickup and delivery.” 

According to Jalopnik, Farley claims existing dealerships will play a role in the transaction with Ford using its “physical presence” to “outperform” companies like Tesla, which have had to build showrooms and service locations.

Used car sales have already seen a shift to online with the rise of Carvana and now Vroom. Who would want to buy a car sight unseen without ever stepping foot in it and taking a test drive? I know a few people who have made Carvana purchases and are satisfied with the experience. I remain skeptical, but perhaps I’m just one of those late adopters we talk about. 

While there are big differences between the farm equipment and auto industries, it’s widely accepted that many innovations birthed in the auto dealer model world make their way to farm equipment dealers over time.

“Do you feel any differently now that it has essentially become a reality for dealers?…”

Whether or not this trend makes it way to farm equipment dealers (or even auto dealers on a wider scale) depends a lot on the customer. That said, today’s farm equipment customer isn’t the same as the customer of even 10 years ago. 

Back in 2018, I was having a conversation with two dealers about the changes they’ve seen in their customers. One shared a story about how the younger generation of one customer (who farms 50,000 acres) heard about a new tillage tool that was being used by another farmer in Canada who had seen great results. Based on that conversation alone, the customer bought 4 of them. 

“They’re willing to do that, where in the past they weren’t. I think that’s a shift from generation to generation; that they’re much more willing to adopt a new technology faster,” the dealer said. 

Just 2 years ago in our special report for the September 2020 issue, we asked dealers to dare to dream of how dealer facilities might evolve by 2030. None of those predictions included moving away from dealers selling wholegoods. Do you feel any differently 2 years later now that it has essentially become a reality for most dealers — via the supply chain shortages?