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2017 Progress Report

At mid-year point, dealers share their first-half hopes and results, second-half adjustments and outlooks

On May 22, Outdoor Power Equipment magazine conducted a Q&A with several outdoor power equipment dealers regarding their pre-2017 expectations, how they fared to date, and what their hopes and expectations are for the rest of the year.

Specifically, we asked them the following four questions:

  1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
  2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
  3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
  4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?

OPE received the following written responses May 22-24, 2017:

ERIC MULLINS
OWNER
M&M LAWN MOWERS, INC.
(TAMPA, FLA.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Looking forward to an “up” year, as we didn’t have a cold winter. Expected an early and long season.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Failed miserably…started great and then we entered a major drought and have just covered expenses since. May be too late to have a really good year.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Sell through all spring orders and re-stock as late as possible so as not to be caught with year-end inventory.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Just trying to survive this year and prepare for 2018.

GARY NICHOLS
THE REAL BOSS’S HUSBAND
NICHOLS EQUIPMENT, INC.
(JACKSONVILLE, FLA.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
We were expecting a warm, wet spring and steady sales.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Sales ahead of last year, while margins are creeping lower. Weather for spring was cool and no significant rainfall in 2017, thus far. Naturally, mower and trimmer sales are down YTD.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Reduce inventory stock levels and look at payroll for underachievers.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Another multi-store discounter has opened 6 miles away with several competing lines. Stay tuned. Perhaps the model of reasonable profit on equipment sales, and not volume selling, has become obsolete.

GUY CLARK
OWNER
CEDAR STREET SALES AND RENTAL
(BATAVIA, N.Y.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
We were coming out of a drought from last year and a very mild winter, so I expected business to be better than last year.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Business has been fantastic. It has rained a lot, which has kept the spring-like mowing conditions going strong. So far, it has exceeded our expectations.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
We plan on cutting the number of riding mower and zero-turn models that we stock in half.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
It’s going to be a great year.

PAUL BURKHEIMER
OWNER
BURKHEIMER EQUIPMENT
(ABERDEEN, MD.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
I thought it was going to be a better year.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Way down. Sales of new machines are down. Service is way down from last year.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
None. Just sit it out.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Not good.

MARY
OWNER/PRESIDENT
BOB’S LAWNMOWER SALES/SERVICE INC.
(MIAMI, FLA.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
My main expectations for this year are to increase my shop revenue by 30 percent and hold down expenses (i.e. purchasing parts).
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Season has not kicked in yet — too early to see. New equipment purchases for the early part of the year have exceeded my expectations.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Cut back on parts ordering — as delivery fees have increased, as well as parts.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
I foresee a very good season (when it decides to kick in — in need of rain).

MIKE
PARTS MANAGER
TERRY’S SMALL ENGINE
(MAPLESVILLE, ALA.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Steadily increasing sales
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Better than expected
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
None
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Another record year

TREY WALDROP
OWNER
SOUTHERN POWERWORKS
(DeFUNIAK SPRINGS, FLA.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Continued, steady, sustainable growth in unit sales, parts sales and service
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Unit and parts sales are up, but service sales are relatively flat.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Hired additional service tech to shorten lead times and increase service sales.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
If we get favorable weather and enough rain, the season should go well.

VICTOR SEGURA
CO-OWNER
PRO-AM POWER OF TEXAS, LLC
(FORT WORTH, TEXAS)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Our main expectation was growth. That growth was coming from all aspects of our shop. We added a couple of new lines of equipment, made some changes in our showroom, added a few more technicians, and focused on some other forms of advertising. We definitely feel the mentality of “If you build it, they will come.” rings true.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Our numbers for this year are up significantly from last year. Overall, things have been as expected. Everyone hopes for “more,” but with more of anything, comes challenges that you cannot always plan for. We will look at numbers come fall and see what changes we will need to make come next year.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
For now, we are sticking with our game plan that we had going into the year. The plan we had going in was to keep our overhead as low as possible, and that has worked out. We can all get in the habit of overdoing the spring orders. Just because it is cheaper then, doesn’t mean you need to buy all the warehouse has left in stock.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Well, if the rain here in Texas doesn’t continue to fall as it has in years past, then we can all expect our sales to decline. But there is no need to elaborate on that. Don’t have to preach to the choir; they know what’s coming. Regardless of the rain, our 2017 has been better than last year, and it will still be a good year for us.

BLAKE MILLS
CORP. MANAGER CO-OWNER
FAMILY CENTER FARM & HOME
(HARRISONVILLE, ST. JOSEPH, ROLLA, MO./PAOLA, KAN.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Grow our business, especially in the new Cub Cadet Pro line, along with as a whole in Stihl, Ferris, Cub, and Honda. Doing this through a lot of digital and TV advertising.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Has been a great year so far. Also, the great weather so far has been a help.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Will continue with some advertising, along with reorders, as it looks to be a year we will continue to have a long growing season as the moisture keeps coming.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Keep putting them out the door and fixing all we can; keep this great 2017 going!

FRANK
PRESIDENT
ROCHESTER LAWN EQUIPMENT
(ROCHESTER HILLS, MICH.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Flat for consumer goods, increase in commercial cutting equipment, increase in service, flat on parts.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
We’re up on all departments.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
None
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Strong, if the weather holds up.

GARY WEYERS
OWNER
WEYERS EQUIPMENT
(KAUKAUNA, WIS.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Good
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
No
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Change advertising strategy
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Hopefully better

BRENT
MANAGER
HENDERSON IMPLEMENT AND OUTDOOR POWER
(COLUMBIA, MO.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
10-percent increase
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Exceeded. We have grown by 25 percent this year. Another local dealer closed shop at the end of last year, and we have added 2 additional lines this year. I’m sure both of those have contributed to the growth, but it has still exceeded our expectations.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Watch our inventory. The selling season in our area started much earlier than normal due to the weather. I believe it will also stop earlier this year, so inventory management will be important.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
I think we have seen the best of this year.

TERRY BASHOOR
OWNER
B&B SMALL ENGINE SERVICE
(MASSILLON, OHIO)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Our expectations heading into the 2017 season were looking for a good season in new and used equipment sales and increasing walk-in parts sales to DIY customers. Our service department does well all year long, so looking to maintain that pace.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
So far this year, our new equipment sales and used equipment sales have been excellent; higher-end zero-turn mowers have been our top sellers with handheld equipment following close behind. We have currently sold through our used equipment. DIY parts sales are running at about the same pace as last year, and the service department is booked out 4-6 weeks.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
At this point, I do not see any need for mid-year adjustments, just looking to keep moving at our current pace.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Our outlook for 2017 is having a good year and hoping the weather continues to cooperate in our favor.

STEVEN LORISH
OWNER
R.H. LORISH MOWER SHOP LLC
(ALBURTIS, PA.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
The same as last several year’s with service and sales of new equipment. Service gets to a two-week backlog and holds steady through June. New equipment sales vary from large to small zero-turns and steady sales of walk-behind mowers.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Yes, but we have seen a large increase in residential zero-turn sales and a longer-than-normal availability. Service work has a three-week backlog and is holding steady at that. Overall, we are recovering from a slow early March but ahead of last year.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Keeping a good amount of equipment on order and hoping for good mid-summer sales. Service is looking to hold steady for a while.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Hope weather continues and sales and service follow.

AARON CONDY
OWNER
COUNTRY EQUIPMENT SERVICE
(PLYMOUTH, WIS.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Growth. Raise sales of new equipment by 30 percent. Expand into new brands.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Good. Growth is up more than 40 percent, and we added Stihl.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Fine-tune the service department.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Sales are slow at the moment due to weather, but have a positive outlook for the remaining year.

JOHN LIBRANDE
MANAGER
AMERICAN MOWER & SAW LLC
(HAYDEN, IDAHO)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Started a website, doing more advertising
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Had a long, rainy spring, so a slow start.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Unknown
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Good

JASON BRUNNER
MANAGER
MONTANA ACE POWER PROS
(MISSOULA, MONT.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
We wanted to keep our turnaround time down and increase our sales by double.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
We have more than doubled our sales. We have not been able to keep turnaround time down. We have seen four times as many new customers this year as before.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
We have added staff and streamlined our shop for repairs. The volume is what is getting us behind. Instead of running “spring specials,” we are going to run fall specials for mowers and spring specials for snow equipment.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
It looks like it will be a banner year. We are already gearing up for the snow season. Sales and repairs are not slowing down.

ED
OWNER
BACON FARM SUPPLY
(ALMA, GA.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Looking for an uptick in consumer buying.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Far below what we had projected.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Sit tight and hope it keeps raining. Extremely dry down here in GA.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Dismal

SCOTT BENKO
OWNER/MGR.
HALTOM EQUIPMENT
(MOORESVILLE, IND.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Increased sales in wholegoods (mowers) and tractors
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Not very well. A cool, wet May has dropped sales significantly in all segments. Don’t know why, but it has. Also, service has all but dried up as well. Down to a couple of days out compared to a week to 2 weeks usually this time of year. People just aren’t coming through the door.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
A little more advertising utilizing local radio and used equipment “trader” and craigslist. Outside banners, equipment displays, etc. (as usual).
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Not sure. Hope it picks up soon. Very disappointing so far.

RICHARD WHITWORTH
OWNER
TOPS: THE OUTDOOR POWER STORE LLC
(HARLINGEN, TEXAS)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Very concerned. 2016 was the first year that we did not experience increase.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
2017 seems to be a better year, especially if you factor in no rain.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Control cost, use advertising money wisely.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Nowhere to go but up.

ED PROCHASKA
OWNER/MANAGER
PRAIRIE POWER CENTER
(SUN PRAIRIE, WIS.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
We had a great year in 2016. Looking for a better year in 2017.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
Plenty of rain this year so far. March this year was cool and a bit behind 2016. Weather is now getting much warmer and looking to make up lost ground from March. April was ahead, and May also looks to be ahead of 2016 at this point.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Have added some new people this spring and working at getting that smoothed out so they can contribute at a greater level. So far, this has been going well. Glad to find the help.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Am looking for 2017 to be better than 2016. With the rain we have been getting, we should be able to do this.

DANIEL E. REIBER
OWNER
REIBER & SON
(NEW CASTLE, PA.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
A better year due to the Presidential election. Customers seem to be more positive.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
We are ahead of last year at this time.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
None
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
We feel it will continue.

HERB BECK
VP SALES/GM
BECK & SONS INC.
(BEAVERCREEK, OHIO)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
I take one day at a time. As long as we get rain and sunshine, things will be fine.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
The weather has been great. Rain and sunshine. Things are well.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Depends on the weather.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Have no control over the rest of the year. No one knows but the Lord, and I put my trust in Jesus Christ!

C.E. TULEY
GM
TULEY FARM & HOME
(DEXTER, MO.)
1. Heading into 2017, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?
Positive with increase in Sales and Services.
2. How has your dealership fared thus far in living up to your expectations for 2017?
The spring has exceeded my expectations.
3. What mid-year adjustments do you plan to make?
Researching to add product lines diverse from outdoor power equipment, such as patio furniture, outdoor kitchens, or pellet grills.
4. What is your outlook for the rest of 2017?
Very good! Our current product offerings with Stihl and Cub Cadet have improved with broader price points, and greatly improved value and conveniences for consumers.

 

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