Dealers' Biggest Opportunities in 2012

In a survey of Yard & Garden readers, dealers share their plans to focus on inventory levels, performance in the service department, and meeting the specific needs of their customer base.

Many dealers thought that 2011 was going to be a big year for equipment sales as tired and over-repaired equipment met its end. Several dealers reported busy service departments but wholegood sales that didn’t meet their expectations. In a recent survey of Yard & Garden readers, 38% of dealers reported they expected to see growth in wholegoods sales for 2011, while only 25% actually did.

Perhaps as a result, some dealers have said they will work toward having a more focused wholegoods inventory in 2012. They will strive to stock more of their best-selling equipment and reduce stock on poor margin products.

Dealers will also be focusing more in the next year on learning who their target market is and meeting their needs specifically. Dealers with a large consumer customer base are going to also be introducing a more-focused inventory. They hope to offer consumer customers a few really quality equipment options rather than a massive inventory of brands. This should give consumers a more comfortable buying experience with an easier decision-making process.

Another way dealers will build consumer relationships in 2012 will be through educating customers on products, equipment usage techniques, and simple repairs and maintenance.

Dealers who have a larger commercial customer segment will be searching for new ways to meet professional needs of contractors in 2012. One dealer said: “We plan to keep customer satisfaction and profitability in focus while doing everything we can to build market share and profitability. We will achieve this by listening to customers and finding unique ways to fulfill their needs in ways that our competitors are unable.”

As is always common, dealers will be focusing on service again in 2012. As repairs continue to supplement equipment sales, it remains a focus among dealers of all levels.

Dealers who have had a strong service focus in recent years will work harder to maintain the consistent implementations of systems they have put in place to improve efficiency and profits. Smaller dealers who have been slammed in recent years with repair orders are now looking for ways to streamline their operation.