While the pandemic may have created challenges, dealers have pulled through with incredible resilience. But we aren’t in the clear just yet. Dealers still face unprecedented challenges, from supply chain disruptions to labor shortages to changing customer expectations. With many of these challenges set to carry on in the year ahead, dealers will need to think strategically to maintain profitability and growth in the year ahead.
We surveyed Ag equipment dealers across North America to find out what challenges they’re facing and how they plan on leveraging technology in the year ahead. Here are our findings:
1. What are some of the biggest challenges Ag dealers expect to face in the year ahead?
Supply chain disruptions are still slowing down dealership service significantly – 39% of survey respondents said manufacturer backlogs would be the biggest challenge they face in the year ahead. Second to that was “tech talent shortages”, according to 26% of respondents.
Dealership management software has advanced significantly in the Ag space but many dealers are still behind in adoption. 12% of respondents said that fixing technology gaps at their dealership would be the biggest challenge in the year ahead.
2. What processes do Ag dealers plan on optimizing using technology?
Dealers are leveraging technology to streamline processes and increase efficiency across every department. The survey results reflected this. 19% of respondents said they plan on using technology to optimize service management, while a closer 18% said they plan on using tech to optimize inventory management, and 17% said parts ordering/receiving.
Tech to streamline sales and service work both came in 14%.
3. Will building their dealership’s online presence be a priority for Ag dealers in the year ahead?
While pandemic restrictions lightened up in 2021, the first wave of the pandemic and its aftermath highlighted the value of having a strong online presence for your business. That could include having e-commerce options for your dealership like an online catalog of products, but your online presence should also be a place to reinforce trust with your customer.
Many customers these days will check out a business online first before deciding to visit it, so having a lot of positive reviews for your dealership is important. Educational content like product videos and blog posts can also help to reinforce your business’s expertise.
71% of survey respondents said that building their dealership’s online presence would be a priority in the year ahead.
4. Do Ag dealers offer used and/or rental equipment?
With the cost of equipment on the rise, many customers are exploring used and rental equipment options, instead of buying new. Offering used and rental equipment at your dealership can be a way to keep customers flowing through.
54% of survey respondents said they already offer used and rental equipment at their dealership, while 31% said they only offer used equipment. Meanwhile, 11% of respondents said they don’t currently offer either, but they plan on offering them. Only 3% of dealers surveyed said they don’t plan on offering either and a mere 1% said they offer rental equipment only.
5. What types of events do Ag dealers prefer/plan on attending in 2022?
In 2020, many in-person events were canceled or moved online to prevent social gatherings. But in 2021, the industry saw a return to in-person events. Many people agree that there isn’t anything quite like gathering in person. Even so, there are some definite benefits to hosting events online, including lower overhead costs and greater accessibility.
That could be why survey respondents were split down the middle on this question. 46% of respondents said they prefer/plan on attending in-person events in the year ahead, while an even 46% said they prefer/plan on attending online events. Meanwhile, 8% of respondents said they plan/prefer to attend hybrid events.
6. Do Ag dealers plan on using mobile apps for sales, service, parts ordering, payments, and more?
These days, customers expect businesses to be “always-on”. They expect faster response time and more convenience for things like requesting service or making payments. That’s why more and more dealers are using mobile apps to streamline all areas of their business, from managing service to ordering parts to collecting payments.
Mobile apps take away the need for your team to sign on to a desktop workstation or pick up a landline phone to communicate with customers. For example, DIS Service Logistics enables technicians to receive, create and update work orders from their mobile devices.
72% of dealers surveyed said they plan on using mobile DMS apps in the year ahead.
7. Do Ag dealers specialize in offering one key manufacturer?
The overwhelming majority of dealers surveyed specialize in one manufacturer—90%. But this comes with some challenges. OEMs are putting more technological requirements on their dealers than ever before. They’re also putting more emphasis on certification and training on their specific equipment, so dealers can become specialists in their products.
It’s important for dealers to work with their DMS providers not just as software providers, but as partners who can help them to interface more efficiently with their key OEM. That includes interfacing for parts ordering, warranty claims, parts location, and more. DIS launched a Kubota interface bundle to help dealers do just this.
8. Do Ag dealers plan on opening another dealership location in the year ahead?
While many dealers have managed to weather the storm of the past two years, most dealers surveyed are not looking to expand their business in 2022. 66% of dealers surveyed said they don’t plan on opening another dealership location. Meanwhile, 20% said they plan on opening a second location, while 14% said they plan on opening a fourth location or higher.
Want more Ag equipment industry trends?
The DIS 2022 Ag Equipment Industry Trends Report is a comprehensive overview of what dealers will be focusing on in 2022. We’ve compiled insights from surveys, Ag industry experts, and Ag DIS dealers across North America.