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discount, Coleman says. If he can make a 50% return on rental, Coleman offers a discount for purchase.

“We like to pass along the savings; it encourages some customers to buy.”

Offer a Package Deal

Another incentive to encourage sales is to offer a pack- age deal. Coleman sometimes includes a post hole digger in a tractor package if it fits the needs of his customer. The family business founded by his grandfather in 1940 started as a Case dealership, but now sells Kubota. Tractor sales comprise a significant part of its business.

Adding an attachment to a tractor sale is a natural. That’s why Henderson employees talk about attachments when they sell tractors. Most of Henderson’s customers are medium to large farms, Farrens says, so he asks how they plan to use them in order to suggest the right tools. Customers often buy a tractor for a specific purpose. In those instances, they often buy the attachments they need at the same time. By qualifying a customer, he can offer the best deal with a custom package.

“If they’re buying a tractor, we usually get that [auger] sale,” Farrens says.

Because skid steers are J Gross’ “bread and butter” and because they want to be a one-stop shop for their custom- ers, they also put together package deals sometimes even throwing in an attachment at cost to get the sale.

The top three things that go with skid steer loaders are buckets, pallet forks and augers, says Gilliland, who sells an average of 25 diggers a year. He compares the New Holland bi-directional tractors that Farm Implement car- ries with skid loaders, and says they sell a lot of diggers to go on the front of them. Attachment sales may not provide a huge margin, Hardie notes, but they supplement business and create residual sales because bits and hydraulic hoses wear out. Bits offer opportunities for big sales, Coleman confirms. Many of his customers buy augers with 12-inch bits, but also may need 18-inch bits. That gives the dealership an additional sales opportunity.

Henderson’s customers generally buy at least two sizes of bits, Farrens says. The most common are 18 inches and 24 inches, but some customers also buy 36-inch or 42-inch tapered bits to dig rounded holes for planting trees. Similarly, Rhino augers are sold with 9-inch bits, although 12- and 15-inch are also popular.

“We couldn’t keep the doors open [by] selling just augers, but they’re good for add-on sales,” Gilliland agrees.

Seasonal Sales Opportunities Augers are typically used for digging holes for trees, fences and footings for decks, piers or utility poles — proj- ects that need to be completed before winter temperatures freeze the ground.

Spring and summer are the biggest seasons for Kansas dealers Coleman Equipment and Farm Implement, but not just because of temperature.

“Customers aren’t working in the winter, but spring is a big sales time, especially after a bad winter that knocks out fences,” Gilliland explains. Sales are contingent on weather. Rain can wash out a fence. Fall can also be a busy time, particularly for farmers trying to replace corral posts before the cold weather strikes. For Henderson, winter can add seasonal sales. Although production farmers buy equipment whenever they have available funds, the hobby farmer waits until winter to buy, hoping for a deal because “sales are slow and they think salesmen are starving.”

Farrens turns that to his advantage by informing cus- tomers that because steel, fuel and iron are going up in price, auger prices will follow. Therefore, the time to buy is now.

Whatever the sales pitch, Gilliland recognizes that the more people who are authorized to sell diggers, the more sales will result.

Farm Implement and Supply has three to four salespeo- ple, but they also empower parts counter people to sell, he says. “They have the prices, the product knowledge and the personal experience to sell.”

They’re putting it all together to make sales; post hole Visit and indicate No. 136 58 RURAL LIFESTYLE DEALER  SPRING 2013

diggers are often sold over the parts counter at Farm Implement. Make it easy to sell, Gilliland summarizes, and the sales will come.


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