Dealers more prepared this time
by Service Dealer Editor, Steve Gibbs
Steve Gibbs

Talking with our dealer panel this week the subjects of Lockdown 2.0, full line dealerships and the problems of current stock availability were all discussed.


First up, before getting into the issues raised by our dealer panel on our video call this week, it would be remiss not to tip our Service Dealer hat to two industry legends who have both coincidentally had their impending retirements announced this week.


Dealers across the country will no doubt join us in wishing STIHL GB md, Robin Lennie and Husqvarna Professional manager, Kevin Ashmore long, happy and very well-deserved retirements. I'd like to thank both men for all the help they've offered myself and the magazine over the years with their openness which has allowed our journal great access to their companies to keep our readers informed.


Similar to the dealers who they have tirelessly served over the years, I'm honoured to consider both Robin and Kevin friends. I've spent many memorable hours thoroughly enjoying their company. Thank you Robin and thank you Kevin. Myself and all your friends at Service Dealer, plus everyone across the industry, all look forward to raising a glass (or two) with you to toast your retirements just as soon as we can!


Return to lockdown


Because being apart from friends, peers and colleagues this year has been one of the most difficult consequences of what we've all been going through. With Lockdown 2.0 upon us in England and other restrictions elsewhere around the UK, it of course also effects how dealers are interacting with their customers.


We discussed this and other topical subjects with our panel on Tuesday this week. As ever, it is most valuable for Service Dealer to hear the thoughts from our readers on the front-line and we offer our gratitude to all participants.



Service Dealer owner, Duncan Murray-Clarke who chaired the call said afterwards, "Not only did we have a great turnout this week on our dealer call, but the calibre of dealer and the feedback was excellent. Many were award winning dealers and three of them were Service Dealer overall dealers of the year, which was great to see.”


The latest lockdown was high on the agenda and it was interesting to hear how it is differing for dealers compared to what they went through back in March and April. Firstly, the consensus appeared to be that at least this time dealerships were more prepared. Measures and procedures were in place to protect customers and staff, allowing work to continue. Everyone's business we spoke to was open, perhaps with the showroom or parts of the site closed off to the public. Vitally though, trade is ongoing.


Unlike last time of course, it's not spring now. Demand for new products is naturally lower at this time of the year. We heard from some commercial machinery dealers who also felt that demand amongst golf clubs for example, had also been hit again due to closures enforced on their facilities. With furlough extended until March, there might be a fear that clubs wouldn't be able to welcome back players for some time, therefore purchasing decisions had been put on hold.


Another significant difference mentioned was that this time there are increased issues regarding staff absentees. More people are either getting ill or are being asked to self-isolate due to family members or friends coming into contact with the virus. We were told that this has been noticeably different than before.


Dealers are having to find ways of coping though, because it appears that workshops are as busy as ever. The close contact that has been kept with customers this year via social media, revamped websites and more traditional methods seems to have paid off. Some even had to cease their messaging temporarily as demand has been exceeding capacity.


A comment from one dealer this week, really stood out as encapsulating what we've heard from many throughout 2020 - "online has saved us this year" they said. After what was described as a dramatic decrease in footfall to their showroom for domestic machinery, fortunes were turned around by offering local deliveries and collections via their website. 


Another dealer echoed these sentiments, although their online presence wasn't so much geared towards e-commerce. They had found success by using their site and social media messaging to emphasize their local specialist credentials. We were told this had worked marvelously throughout each lockdown, generating valuable buzz and fantastic word of mouth amongst their local community.


Full line dealerships


The discussion then turned to a subject that has been in the industry news lately of dealers becoming solus representatives of a single manufacturer - and whether dealers had felt pressure from their suppliers to go down this route.


Some felt this had actually been a phenomenon that had been brewing in the industry for some time. The commitment that certain manufacturers expected from ordering dealers, we were told, had been creeping up and up - at the same time as margins are being squeezed.


A slightly more insidious tactic which was mentioned alongside this, and a potentially bigger cause for concern, was certain manufacturers looking to gain the contact details of dealers' professional customers, so they could access them directly.  It was hoped that any adverse effects from practices such as these could be cancelled out by customers showing loyalty to the dealer rather than to a brand though.


The idea of stocking fewer brands in the showrooms did hold appeal amongst some dealers however. It was felt that too much choice can in fact be confusing for consumers who don't really know what they want. If franchises have been rationalised in store, it allows the dealer a sharper focus and the ability to sell what they choose to the customer to a greater degree.


We were told that not all manufactures are putting stocking pressures on their dealers though. Stiga and some of the smaller suppliers were singled out once again in our discussion for particular praise as companies whom it's easy to do business with. It was clear from the talk that the dealer / manufacturer relationship is incredibly important, but frankly so is the dealer / customer relationship - perhaps more so.


Stock availability


A key concern which emerged from this discussion regarding full-line or a greater commitment to a single brand, is something which seems to be a worry for many right now - stock availability.


We heard that so much product was missing from showrooms at the moment. Yes, dealers could upsell to a degree if a customer's first choice was missing, but there comes a point when even the more expensive option is unavailable.


It was suggested that where multiple brands were held, the impact of a supply issue from an individual manufacturer would be less significant for a dealership.


However, not only is the lack of stock from certain quarters a real issue today, there appeared to be genuine apprehension about what the situation could be like for the first quarter of 2021. Waiting 9-10 weeks for key products is far from ideal we heard. Dealers want to know if they will be able to fulfil orders come the new year.


It's issues like this that will have real influence over business confidence levels heading into 2021.


We are interested today to hear how all our readers are feeling about what the new year could hold. As such we're running our annual business confidence survey, which we'd really appreciate readers taking a few moments to complete.


We will publish the results of the survey and a selection of your comments in the next issue of Service Dealer magazine. Thank you for your input.


Take the survey.

Successor named as Kay Green from Hasbro
Robin Lennie

This week's WEB ONLY story is Robin Lennie will retire as STIHL Great Britain’s long-standing managing director at the end of 2020.


From UK Professional manager role
Kevin Ashmore

Husqvarna UK has announced that after 26 years with the company and 38 in the industry, Kevin Ashmore will retire from his role at the end of 2020.


Husqvarna UK has announced that after 26 years Professional manager, Kevin Ashmore, will retire from his role at the end of 2020.


The company says, having worked in the industry for 38 years, Kevin, with his wealth of knowledge and passion for the business, has become a highly valued colleague within the Husqvarna Group.


Discussing his retirement, Kevin said, “Within my 26 enjoyable years of working at Husqvarna, I have had the pleasure of undertaking a number of different roles with the company. During this time, I have strived to meet all of the challenges that they brought, without forgetting to experience the many opportunities that working at Husqvarna has offered me along the way.


“It is not only those memories that will remain with me but also those of the people that both made, and still make, Husqvarna the company I have had the pleasure of being a part of. I am looking forward (along with my wife), towards starting a new planned chapter in our lives and a fresh challenge in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland shortly.”


The UK Professional team and regional Professional business manager, Arian Essenstam, will work closely with Kevin to ensure a smooth transition.


Ken Brewster, commercial director at Husqvarna UK said, “Everyone at Husqvarna thanks Kevin for his outstanding contribution, for being a valued colleague and friend, and for his commitment to our dealers, customers and the Husqvarna UK team.”


All at Service Dealer wish Kevin all the very best on his well-earned retirement.

Dealer has all leading Japanese ATV franchises to offer
MKM's Anthony Deacon

How MKM Agriculture progressed from a single ATV franchise in 2003 to now offering the four leading Japanese brands under one roof.


In the latest episode of the Inside Agri-Turf podcast, Anthony Deacon, md of MKM Agriculture tells how the company progressed from a single ATV franchise in 2003 to now be able to supply all four of the leading Japanese brands (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha) under one roof.


MKM's Anthony Deacon


“We didn’t set out to be a collector of franchises, but over time the manufacturers approached us to fill the gaps left by dealers who had closed their business," Anthony tells Chris Biddle. "It means of course that from the customers point of view we are able to provide an unrivalled choice.


“We have two types of customer, either those who say that they want to buy an ATV, and the rest who say they want a Honda. Either way we win”


Anthony also talks about the importance of providing comprehensive operator training by being an accredited EASI (European ATV Safety Institute) instructor, and how he has had to to completely revamp his marketing this year with an enhanced website and social media. “If the customer cant come to us, we have to go to the customer.”



He says that 2019 was an important year. The company opened a second branch in Suffolk (which is solus Honda) and the company won the Service Dealer ATV Dealer of the Year Award “which provided us with an invaluable identity, and has certainly resulted in us having an excellent trading year in 2020.”


Listen to the podcast here.

Little support for virtual events

The GMA has revealed its feedback from both the recent visitor and exhibitor surveys that influenced their decision to move SALTEX back to its November slot in 2021.


The Grounds Management Association (GMA) has revealed its feedback from both the recent visitor and exhibitor surveys that influenced their decision to move SALTEX back to its November slot in 2021.



Last month the GMA issued two surveys; one to every exhibitor that had signed-up to the 2020 event and one to every visitor - past and present. The Association says the aim was to gather industry feedback to help plan for and shape the future of SALTEX.


The GMA says when they asked which type of show visitors would like to attend, respondents confirmed that an indoor show was the most popular choice for both 2021 and 2022 - beating out the prospect of a virtual event by some margin, according to the figures the GMA released.


Preferences for 2021

  • Indoor show - 86%
  • Outdoor show - 27%
  • Virtual show -18%

Preferences for 2022

  • Indoor - 91%
  • Outdoor - 33%
  • Virtual - 9%

A key question in the survey asked the best time of year to attend a trade show; November was the first option – followed by October.

  • November - 47%
  • October - 32%
  • February - 30%
  • September - 25%

In an official statement the GMA said, "Despite the pandemic it is clear that there remains an appetite for trade shows. Respondents were asked how confident they were on a scale of 0-10 (0 not likely at all, 10 extremely likely) in attending trade shows in the future. An overwhelming 73% voted 7 or above."


Commenting on the results of the survey, Geoff Webb, CEO of the GMA said, “Crucially, we wanted to listen to the industry and give them an opportunity to shape a show that is totally about them, and their needs. It also hugely supported our motivation to reschedule.


“We felt really encouraged by the research which pointed to a continuing demand for an indoor trade exhibition and it was also promising to see November as the preferred date.

"There was a reason that we went from an outdoor Summer show to an indoor show, and I think these survey results underline the fact that SALTEX, in its current format, works for the sector.”


In other results from the survey released by the GMA, figures show that SALTEX has attracted increasing numbers of new first-time visitors over recent years. 34% visited SALTEX for the first time in 2019 compared to 28% in 2018, 27% in 2017, 26% in 2016 and 23% in 2015.


The Association also says that SALTEX is appealing more to the younger generation in the industry too, with an increase of 6% in visitors aged between 16-30 seen at the show in 2019.


Other notable increases also mentioned by the GMA were a rise in landscapers, local authorities and those working in junior, assistant and deputy positions.

Scott W. Wine
Scott W. Wine

Effective January 4, 2021, Scott W. Wine joins from Polaris Inc. where he was, since 2008, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman and CEO since 2013.


CNH Industrial N.V. has announced the appointment of Scott W. Wine as Chief Executive Officer, effective January 4, 2021.


Scott Wine joins the company from Polaris Inc. where he was, since 2008, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman and CEO since 2013.


Prior to joining Polaris, Scott Wine held executive positions with United Technologies Corporation, Danaher Corp. and Allied Signal Corp. He also served as a United States naval officer. CNH say Mr Wine brings extensive expertise in mergers and acquisitions in the U.S.A, Europe and Asia.

“The Board is delighted at the appointment of Scott Wine, given his broad industrial experience and strategic expertise,” said Suzanne Heywood, Chair and Acting Chief Executive Officer, CNH Industrial N.V. “Scott is committed to delivering the strategy that the company outlined at its Capital Markets Day in 2019, including the plan to spin-off its on-highway activities.”

With addition of Baroness

Lincolnshire based dealers Irelands have recently expanded into groundscare, operating as Irelands Lincolnshire GroundCare.


Lincolnshire based dealers Irelands have recently expanded their machinery offering into groundscare, operating under the Irelands Group as Irelands Lincolnshire GroundCare.


Following the taking on of the Kubota franchise, the dealership has subsequently signed an agreement with Baroness to supply and support the professional range of Golf and Fine-Turf mowers across Lincolnshire, Rutland and Peterborough.

Jonathan Ireland, md Irelands, said, “We believe Baroness are a long-term partner and they are very much in our plans as we continue to develop and move forward. I am delighted that we are in a position to be able to offer our new and current customers the benefits of the Baroness range.”

Adam Butler, Baroness sales director added, “Bringing Irelands into our already substantial dealer portfolio was an easy decision for us. Their back up and customer service is second to none in the area and we are very excited to be working with a company that demands such high standards. Yes, our machines are great but we must have great service to back them up.”

British-built crop sprayers
Chafer crop sprayer

Dealers T H White have added Chafer crop sprayers to their line-up of agricultural machinery.

Dealers T H White have added Chafer crop sprayers to their line-up of agricultural machinery.


Established in 1901, the range of trailed and self-propelled crop sprayers is designed and built in North Lincolnshire.

“Although we haven’t been around quite as long as T H White,” said Chafer managing director Rob Starkey, “our two companies share a long history in the agricultural sector and we are delighted to be able to offer our range through such a highly respected dealer network.”

T H White director David Rapkins added, “Both T H White and Chafer are dedicated to quality and service. We are proud to be able to extend our offering to farmers with these outstanding sprayers which will help to drive efficiency and economy.”

Distributing motor mowers and slope tractors
Dealers F. R. Sharrock Limited have signed a partnership agreement with Aebi Schmidt UK

Dealer will now be responsible for the distribution of the range across the North West and Midlands with immediate effect.


Dealers F. R. Sharrock Limited have signed a partnership agreement with Aebi Schmidt UK.


Sharrocks will now be responsible for the distribution of the Aebi range of motor mowers and slope tractors across the North West and Midlands with immediate effect.

Commenting on the partnership, James Sharrock, md of F. R. Sharrock Limited said, “We have been speaking with Aebi Schmidt for some time and when they confirmed they were establishing a new dealer network for Aebi it was a simple choice for us. We previously distributed Aebi tractors before they were acquired by Schmidt and have always considered them to be the best in class.”

Speaking after completing the appointment of Sharrocks, Martin Foster, key account manager at Aebi Schmidt said, “We are committed to establishing the strongest dealer network possible to deliver our end-users the best service. With Sharrocks extensive experience in this sector their appointment is a logical one. Their commitment to outstanding customer service and unrivalled product support reflects our own values and their continual investment into infrastructure and staff to meet customers’ increasing demands is a sure sign of success.”

From idverde
The stolen CXR

Idverde UK had a Mean Green CXR zero turn mower stolen last Friday night from their Gunnersbury Park site in West London.

Idverde UK had a Mean Green CXR zero turn mower stolen last Friday night (November 13th) from their Gunnersbury Park site in West London.



Guy Overton from UK distributors Overton (UK Limited) has been in touch with TurfPro to see if readers can help them in their efforts to help Angus Lindsay recover the mower.


The mower's serial number is 130206.


If anyone in the turf professional sector or the lawnmower trade have any information or are asked for spare parts for this mower please contact Overton on 01522 690011 or guy@overtonukltd.com.

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Sponsored Product Announcements
Trade & OEM Customers Only
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Sending customers through your door


In Garden Trader user research conducted over the Spring/Summer (February to July) of 2020, 79% of the 67,000 users found the site helpful or extremely helpful.  But even more encouraging was that 77.4% of site users were likely or extremely likely to visit the dealership they were looking at on Garden Trader.  This is the best proof yet that people want to buy from people and this highly targeted website is delivering quality leads to subscribed dealers for just 26p per day.  A subscription rate designed to be all inclusive.


This site was purpose-built just for you, the skilled dealers. It is easy and quick to register and costs just £96 + VAT per year to be listed and all revenues in 2020/21 will be reinvested into promoting the site online.


Our Summer research indicates that on average, each Garden Trader dealer will be sent 114 new customers (or people with a buying intention walking through your door) per year.  This works out at 83p each customer.  Join the country’s only independent specialist website, created by the team that bring you Service Dealer. Join our subscribed Garden Trader dealers now by clicking on “Register Dealership” and let's fight back against the zero value retailers.


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November / December 2020
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How are you feeling ahead of the new year?
Take our Business Prospects 2021 survey

Please take our short survey to let us know how you are feeling regarding the prospects for your business in 2021.


We will publish the results and a selection of your comments in the next issue of Service Dealer magazine.