Mid-year Progress Report

Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) magazine recently surveyed dealers on their expectations and results for the first half of 2013, as well as their outlooks for the second half of the year. Specifically, we asked them the following four questions:


1. What were your expectations for your dealership heading into 2013?


2. How has your dealership fared in meeting those expectations in the first half of 2013?


3. What are your expectations for your dealership in the second half of 2013?


4. What second-half strategies do you plan to employ?


OPE received the following responses June 13-25:


2012 would have ended flat except the storm-related business from Hurricane Sandy. With the increase in taxes for 2013, we felt we needed to raise prices and cut costs rather than rely on a forecast upswing in the economy.


The first half of 2013 started with a snow drought and a cold, lackluster spring in both rentals and lawn and garden.


We are still seeing a good number of customers dropping mowing services and resurrecting stored mowers. On the rental side, we are seeing more customers renting equipment to repair aging decks rather than buying equipment needed to build new decks and patios. I feel consumers are still reluctant to spend money.


Our price increases on labor, parts and rentals have not seemed to hurt our business. We will move into the summer with a larger advertising budget than a year ago.


At best, we are expecting our net profits to mirror 2012.


— Rob Leiser
Leiser’s Rental & Sales
Easton, Pa.


Our expectations, or at least our hopes, for 2013 were to have something close to a “normal” season. After last year’s drought, “normal” sounded awfully good.


Having set a somewhat low benchmark, we have been pleasantly surprised. Even though the season got off to a slow start, with winter refusing to depart on schedule, we had a very good April and May. The bulging warehouse that had cost me several nights sleep, turned out to have been a good thing. Our inventory has sold down to just where we want to be at this time of year.


Unfortunately, mower sales in June have died. It was just like someone threw a switch. One week we were selling mowers; the next week, we weren’t. I am expecting sales to come back a little, especially if it keeps raining.


However, the good part of the season is over. We will push a few more mowers out the door and be really lean by fall, when we book for 2014. For the rest of the summer, we will focus on boats, outboard motors, and other non-traditional power equipment lines. In the fall, we may have a small “second season” for mowers which will help clear out “demos” and leftovers. Most of our winter revenue comes from the sale of alternative heating appliances and wood pellet sales, and it’s too early to get a feel for that market just yet.


— Roger Zerkle, owner
ZDE, LLC
Flat Rock, Ill. 


Our expectations for our dealership at the beginning of this year were to be able to repeat 2012’s sales — which were great. However, the first half of 2013 has been slow due to a late spring. We are expecting that the second half of our season will pick up and make up for the slow start. We took on a UV line, which has been a good move for our dealership, and we hope to continue to successfully market that, as well as our other lines.


— John Moon, owner
Moon’s Farm-Yard Center, Inc.
Ulysses, Pa.


Due to the severe drought & the worsening of the local economy last year, we almost lost the business. Therefore, we had nowhere to go but up this year. So far, new equipment sales are still slow, but repair has been great & profitable, keeping us in the black. We have also been ruthless in expense reduction, allowing us to show an actual profit. If the economy ever goes back to “normal,” we will be positioned to make some real money. In the meantime, chump change is better than losing money.


— Dean Davis
Dogwood Fireplace & Lawn
Carbondale, Ill.


I have been too busy to email!!!!! We had the BEST April/May EVER…and looks like June will be that way also. We have had good rain all spring and cool weather, allowing us to keep that moisture. It also feels like people are wanting to spend again. We have had customers buying bigger and better units like we saw several years ago. Stock market up doesn’t hurt a thing. There are three brands for us that are ROCK’N…Kubota, Hustler, Stihl. The customers want quality and will pay for it. We have also seen our best margins in some time. All and all, we are feeling good. After several years of being afraid to spend, we are getting new trucks and trailers that are well overdue.


— Tom Rigg, president
Rigg’s Outdoor Power Equipment
Northern Indiana (Valparaiso, LaPorte, Mishawaka, Lafayette)


1. What were your expectations for your dealership heading into 2013?


Our expectations were fairly high for 2013. With the addition of the Mahindra Tractor brand in early 2012, we expected our sales to be up in comparison to previous years.


2. How has your dealership fared in meeting those expectations in the first half of 2013?


The first half of 2013 is coming in very strong. YTD, we’re having our best year in company history. The year started a little later than usual, and we were a little nervous at the end of March. However, April and May more than made up what we were lacking in January, February and March.


3. What are your expectations for your dealership in the second half of 2013?


Our expectations remain high for the balance of the year. Any time you add a new (high dollar volume) product line, you have to set your goals high enough to recover the cost of taking on that product line. If you don’t, it’s a losing game every time.


4. What second-half strategies do you plan to employ?


Our strategy for the first half of the year was to focus primarily on the outdoor power equipment part of our business. Our strategy for the balance of the year is to focus on Mahindra, and building that product line. We’re set up to attend a couple of fairs and farm machinery shows, and hope to see great results!


— Jason Hicks, inside sales, parts, and service manager
West Chester Lawn & Garden/Moe’s Outdoor Equipment & Supplies
Liberty Township, Ohio/Springboro, Ohio


1. What were your expectations for your dealership heading into 2013?


We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. We felt everything would bounce back from 2012’s perfect storm of no snow and 130-year drought. March was really slow, but helped customers because we had several snows — one a 10-inch blast. This pushed back mower sales until April. April-June have been really strong.


2. How has your dealership fared in meeting those expectations in the first half of 2013?


Our sales volume is down slightly, but with the adjustments in expenses we made, we will be well ahead of 2012 and even 2011.


3. What are your expectations for your dealership in the second half of 2013?


It has continued to rain, and the grass has continued to grow. We think it will be a strong second half of 2013.


— Scott Muehlhauser, president
Scott’s Power Equipment, Inc.
St. Louis and St. Louis Metro, Mo. (4 locations)

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