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2017: The Year in Review

Dealers share 2017 results and takeaways,
as well as hopes and outlooks for 2018

Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) recently asked dealers about how they’ve fared thus far in 2017, what their plans are for the coming year, and what their outlooks are for 2018. Specifically, we asked them the following questions:

1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?

OPE received the following written responses from 18 dealers Sept. 20-26, 2017:

MATT
PRESIDENT
ED & MATT EQUIPMENT
(GREENVILLE, R.I.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
10 / Economy is good, so people are spending money.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Landscapers can’t get help, so they are not adding crews. We are working to grow our residential business.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
10 / The economy should stay strong, and we expect to grow by focusing in new areas.

ROB LEISER
PRESIDENT
LEISER’S RENTAL
(EASTON, PA.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
8

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Time to get serious about retirement.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
We continue to adjust to increasing lack of product support offered by our suppliers. Consumers continue to rely on discount retailers for larger and larger OPE purchases.

JAKE RICKER
GENERAL MANAGER
BAKER’S POWER & TURF
(MILLSBORO, DEL.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
8: Sales were up after double-digit growth last year. We were able to find and add another quality tech.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Increased awareness and acceptance to robotics and battery-powered equipment. More than ever, consumers are more demanding and educated. We must improve our processes and provide a better experience for our customers. Need to have our sales staff better trained.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
7: I think that our OPE business partners are well set up to be competitive for many years to come. Our area is fortunate to continue to grow as well.

JIM SOMMER
PRESIDENT
SERVICE MOTOR COMPANY
(DALE, WIS.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
7

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
In-season availability takes away sales.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
5

AARON CONDY
OWNER
COUNTRY EQUIPMENT SERVICE
(PLYMOUTH, WIS.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
I’m going to rate us at 7. 2017 is our fourth year in business, and we saw 40-percent growth in overall sales and we still have three months to go! With growth though, we are finding areas where we need to improve on, so not a perfect 10 yet!

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
We will continue to choose the equipment we know we can sell and not let the brands put product in our store that do not sell. Hold our prices. Big box doesn’t discount, so why should we? If only other dealers in our area would do the same!

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
10! More growth coming! More lines and the start to our addition of a second location!

GUY CLARK
OWNER
CEDAR STREET SALES AND RENTAL
(BATAVIA, N.Y.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
9

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Despite a slow start due to lack of snow, the rains kept coming all season, keeping lawns growing. Weather trumps everything in the OPE business.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
9. I think that the moisture trend will continue, giving us a nice winter season. Both of our sons graduated from college and joined the team too, which brings lots of fresh ideas and a strong vision for the future.

ANONYMOUS DEALER
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
8, lots of rain but lower than usual for repair.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
(Did not answer question)

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
(Did not answer question)

SAM STEARNS
OWNER
MOWER MAN
(SCOTTSBURG, IND.)

1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
5. Things are pretty much stagnant, compared with 2016.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Beware of whom you partner with for online marketing.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
9. I’m planning a move to a brand-new building (not yet built, or even designed) at a MUCH improved location. I expect much more
traffic as a result, and for the business to grow drastically. The only thing that keeps me from giving my optimism for next year a 10 is the fear in the back of my mind about having to finally hire an employee.

TOM
VP
DEVON LANE POWER EQUIPMENT
(BELCHERTOWN, MASS.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
7. Better rainfall through this season.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Lithium-ion products did well with commercial customers. We will build more in commercial sales.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
7. OEM margins vary wildly, and profits are lower. We will emphasize OEMs with higher price points, better quality & performance. We are not interested in selling and servicing lower-priced products from mass channels.

ANDREW COLE
OWNER, OFFICE MANAGER
RANKIN SALES AND SERVICE
(OGALLALA, NEB.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
9, We saw an uptick in service this year with a slight decline in sales overall. Due to commodity prices, our AG people were non existent in sales of new equipment, but we saw more service from the same customers.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Stock carefully with whole goods. We did a decent job of anticipating new products and demand for said products, but had too many lost sales due to supply chain issues with certain lines. So, we need to anticipate more accurately going into 2018.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
9. We are AG driven in this part of the world. Will be a 10 if commodity prices rebound this fall.

DALE MAGIE
PRESIDENT
MOE’S
(LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, OHIO)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
4. Salt and snow sales is most of our soft sales year. Our commercial business has been soft because of two years of soft winter season.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
We have to continue to realize service is why customers are going to do business with us. We have to continue to grow our service and turnaround time. We need to sell products and services, not commodities.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
5. I think there will be some improvements, but finding good qualified staff, at a wage we can afford, will hurt growth opportunities.

C.E. TULEY
MEMBER/GENERAL MANAGER
TULEY FARM & HOME
(DEXTER, MO.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
9

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Year-round advertising influences people.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
9

CHARLES SAUL
OWNER
SAUL’S LAWNMOWER
(PILESGROVE, N.J.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
7. We had a lot of rain at just the right time; sales again are a little slow.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
The biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years: Don’t get too greedy; next year may be a drought.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
4. I have one long-time mechanic retiring and the replacement is out with a bad back, and I’ll be 70.

JEAN TERRELL
OWNER/MANAGER
TERRELL’S LAWNMOWER SALES & SERVICE, INC.
(FRANKLINTON, LA.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
5. Sales were slow in the spring due to the cold nights and grass not growing. Has been a challenging year because of the economy.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Our sales taxes have been a challenge to us because we live so close to the Mississippi line and their taxes are 2.83 percent less than ours. We need to be more aggressive in our sales.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
Hopefully, it will be a better year.

MARK BAILEY
PRESIDENT
BUCK’S SAW SERVICE, INC.
(NOVATO, CALIF.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
We are seeing a small increase this year, which coincides with a good year last year, which was a good increase from the couple years prior during the drought.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
More battery product sales and the struggle to find a good mechanic.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
We should be OK. Hoping to find a mechanic due to retirement.

BOB CHIESA
OWNER
POWER AT HAND INC.
(DENVER, COLO.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
5. My building was purchased, and I was asked to leave. I have been there since 1983.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
I own the building I moved into, and it was
less than a one-block move. So far, business is fine.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
10. I’m an optimistic guy. No close competition.

CHRIS FAMA
OWNER/PRESIDENT
SCAPERS OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT
(GAINESVILLE, GA.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
#8. Always room for improvement! We keep giving our best possible customer service to all of our customers.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
Working with only manufacturers who care and want to work with the dealer more.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
#8. We are now working with Bob Clements International, and so far, it has been an amazing ride!

SALLY MILLER
PRESIDENT
DOBOSH CENTER
(PITTSBURGH, PA.)
1) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how has your dealership fared in 2017, and why?
8, because business is up for the year. Weather in my area has been favorable with rain all summer and no dry spells. Products that didn’t sell last year, sold well this year, except for snow.

2) What are your biggest takeaways from 2017, and how might you apply the lessons learned from them in 2018?
To hire better employees, delegate more, and work less. I’m not getting any younger.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how optimistic are you about your dealership heading into 2018, and why?
I have high hopes for 2018, but wonder if the weather can cooperate for three years in a row. Weather is the biggest factor affecting my business, but I can’t do anything to change it.

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