The Current Shortline Problem…
The Kirkpatrick Creative method is based on data collection and analysis. It’s incredibly helpful when talking with dealers and manufacturers about margins and bottom lines. However, in equipment sales – when the rubber meets the road – everything comes back to relationships. Finding customers and keeping them. Not just for a few years — a well-maintained customer relationship can last for a lifetime. So selling one tractor is nice, but a well-maintained customer relationship could mean a lifetime of implement and replacement part sales plus whatever else they may need. Never mind the possibility of their family continuing to buy from you for generations. It always comes back to relationships!
We’ve found equipment dealers have a great understanding of their customers and how they relate to their profits, but they tend to ignore the profitability of some of their products — specifically short line equipment.
Most dealers focus all of their money, time and energy on selling main line tractors (and specific shortline products with marketing or financing ties to them). Those are the big-ticket items and that’s what customers get excited about. This naturally leads to independent, short line products getting lost in the shuffle and often hidden in the dark shadowy corners of the lot. Nevermind that shortline co-op money is likely being left on the table — the bigger issue is…
Is ignoring your short line really the most efficient way of selling your mainline products?
Should We Reverse Our Thinking?
Let’s consider the idea of promoting your short lines (even the independents), over focusing only on mainline products.
If the goal of good business is lifetime relationships, we have to ask what is going to bring a customer back year after year? [PULLQUOTE] How many main line tractors is one man going to buy over a lifetime — maybe two? How many implements will he buy and eventually replace — a dozen?
If dealers focused on moving short line implements and keeping those customers happy — those customers will keep coming back. So when they are ready to buy a main line tractor — what relationship are they going to lean on?
We aren’t suggesting a restructuring of industry ideology. We’re simply asking dealers to take advantage of short line co-op dollars to advertise the dealership, and sell an extra couple of implements (and earn an extra couple of customers). Isn’t that better than simply leaving that co-op money on the table?