NTPDA News Notes

Congratulations and In the News: Diploma Scholarship

Every so often we catch some news about the tractor parts industry and our members. Last month the Abilene-RC from Kansas ran a story congratulating Blake Swenson the son of Kevin and Jill on his $1,000 National Tractor Parts Dealer Association college scholarship. Blake is headed to North Central Kansas Technical College for a certification in heavy equipment and his NTPDA sponsor was Abilene Machine.  Blake joins many others who were recently awarded scholarship dollars from your association.

If you've got a story about your NTPDA Member Business send it along to our staff writer Michael Libbie.

Sharing Equipment & Cutting Costs

Meanwhile lackluster commodity prices has farmers considering ways to reduce costs. This week Iowa Farmer Today carried a story about how some "Good Neighbors" have struck a deal to share equipment rather than buy new. When a combine is only used a few weeks a year these farmers figure they can improve their bottom line by sharing. Here is the story.

Driverless_tractorDriverless Tractors

It was all the rage during the Farm Progress Show as farmers and ranchers got a good look at the Case IH tractor that is missing a driver. The Autonomous Concept Vehicle, as Case IH calles it, comes equipped with cameras, radar and GPS, allowing a farmer to remotely monitor planting and harvesting via an app on a tablet computer. Here is the story from Bloomberg Technology. We assume that it will still take a human to change the oil.

Save the Date!

A reminder that we'll be in San Antonio for the 33rd Annual Conference and Trade Show from January 18 - 21, 2017. We'll soon have registration data available but, for now, put it down in ink so we make sure you're there. We've got an exciting and valuable line up for our members and ways to help your business grow.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 


A Perfect Storm for Used Parts?

A "perfect storm" may be brewing in farming communities that could have a direct impact on the used agricultural parts industry. In a report published by the Perfect Storm Road USDA this month we learn that, once again, farmland values in the "Farm Belt" have slipped. Lenders have seen another 2% drop in the value of an acre of farm ground. The reason is low commodity prices which, in Iowa alone, will cost farmers $2 billion in income this crop year. The other issue is the rise in oil prices. In just the past week we've seen a barrel of crude go from near $40 to knocking on the door of $50. We are all aware that agriculture uses an abundance of petroleum products from fertilizer to fuel.

All of this, if we pay attention, may signal an opportunity for the used, rebuilt, re-manufactured parts business.

When farmers see the economic reality of lower prices and higher inputs they begin to re-think their spending patterns. If, for example, they can save several thousand dollars on repairs this fall it's money in their pocket.

This has a direct impact on members of NTPDA if we start telling our story. Farmers have long been independent do-it-yourself experts. And when they realize the economics of doing business with you...you are more likely to increase your business.

But, they have to know about you and how you can help so here are three things you might consider over the next several weeks.

  • Share the Story - If you are using social media you should start telling your story about being an independent business who can assist the agricultural community through this economic downturn;
  • Your Website - If you have, and you should have, a call to action on your website you should use that space to highlight the savings and benefits of doing business with you and how you can provide high quality service at lower prices. If you have a business blog (and you should) consider pointing that call to action to the story about how you can help;
  • Media Connections - We all have local newspapers or radio stations. You should consider writing a quick piece about the economics of the farm economy and then pitch that to the media outlets. They are always looking for solid stories that impact their listeners or readers.

You have an excellent story to tell and people are seeking answers.  Go get 'em!


How About a Checkup From the Neck Up?

Doctor FunnyEveryday our NTPDA Members go to work making life better for their customers and employees. That, at least, should be the goal because when we are "other focused" we all get what we want.

So, how can your association make your life/business better?  That is constantly the focus of our Board of Directors and staff and we think, based on your response to some recent polls, we may be on target.

Next year we'll gather in San Antonio to offer your business a "checkup from the neck up". We'll help you take a hard look at current business practices and ask you what you think has worked and what might need work. We'll spend time on marketing, social media, sales, employee recruitment and retention. We'll listen to what you've done and offer some tips on how you might change some tweak some things to boost your level of happiness.

Sure, we'll have fun and have the opportunity to enjoy the company of our family and friends but we also want to deliver value for your membership and we, honestly, want to help your business get better.

We're looking forward to doing that business checkup in San Antonio and be watching for registration information soon!


Dog Days of Summer

Puppy IceWe've all heard the expression "Dog Days of Summer" but did you know that phrase comes from ancient times and not from Georgia? It seems that the hot, sultry weather around the Mediterranean Sea coincided with the rise of the star formation Orion's dog and the "dog star" Sirius. And, so it was that the hot days were recorded as the "Dog Days of Summer" in writings by the Greeks (Hesiod, Aratus, and Homer in The Iliad) and the later Romans.

Here is a piece from The Iliad:

Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion's Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.

See what you learn when you're a member of the NTPDA?

Happy (and thank goodness for air conditioning!) Dog Days of Summer!

 


NTPDA and Social Media

Social Media HandsPerhaps you have noticed an uptick in our social media efforts. That's because we've refined some search items and we've been reaching out to more and more members as well as potential members.

Part of the future success for the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association is going to rest with how well we share the value of membership. While it's true that, when we get together, we have a great time it is also true that your association leadership is attempting to help you become more successful. We do that by sharing topical news items, links to new sales ideas, marketing advice and member to member sharing.

So, here is something you can do for us...get social.  

If you are using social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube make sure you hit us up as well.  Let us know what you are doing. Share with us your news. Tag us in your posts and let us use the power of social media to help promote the work you are doing.

Search for us on Facebook: National Tractor Parts Dealer Association

And on Twitter we are @NTPDA

Together we can make an impact and make a difference.


Membership - Why Not?

Join us imageBecoming a member of the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association is easy...if you meet specific guidelines which are in our organizational by-laws.  We have two categories of Membership.  Ready?

  • Regular Members are those corporations, partnerships, and individual businesses whose main business includes the distribution of recycled tractor and equipment parts;

  • Associate Members are manufacturers and wholesale suppliers and those who provide products and/or services to the Regular Members.

So, you can be in the business of selling recycled tractor and equipment parts OR be a company who provides products and/or services to folks who are Regular Members.

So, what's the VALUE in becoming an NTPDA Member?  Glad you asked because there are many right here. On top of the realization that taking advantage of even just a couple of our benefits you will offset the cost of membership...easy.

Let's DO THIS...here is the application page for membership. We'd love to have you join us in San Antonio in January and get to know you between now and then.  

Thanks for reading and for joining the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association!

 

 


Too Early?

The Summer Board Meeting is in the books and much of the meeting had to do with the 2017 Conference and Trade Show headed to San Antonio starting on Save the Date January 18. So, this is your "heads up" to Save the Date!

The Membership Committee is working on details surrounding the event and recently members filled out a survey telling them what they wanted to learn while in Texas.  The survey was sent via email in May to 192 email addresses we have on file. 14% of our members responded and told us these are the top four things they would like to learn more about during the 2017 Conference and Trade Show:

  • Marketing including Social Media - 74% of those who responded said they want to learn more about how to market effectively and how to better use social media in their marketing efforts. This would include traditional marketing methods such as print, radio, television as well as new media such as Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram and a host of other products that are available;
  • Employee Recruitment/Retention/Motivation - 44% of our responding members say they would like to learn how to better recruit and retain employees. And 59% said they would like to learn how to better motivate current employees. This didn't surprise us much because across most industries we hear the same thing, "We can't find good people who want to work." Our goal with this area would be to examine what works and what might need work when it comes to finding, keeping and motivating employees;
  • Sales - This area received a 51% rating. Our members want to know how to increase sales and who doesn't? What new ideas are there to boost the bottom line and deliver a more sound profit?

You can be assured that we are working, right now, on delivering on our promise to bring value to your membership. 

We hope that you'll Save the Dates of January 18 - 21 for our Annual Conference and Trade Show this year in San Antonio!  More information will be coming to you on a regular basis!

See ya in Texas y'all!

 


Using All the Tools

We enjoy finding news about our NTPDA Members and when we were checking the Internet came across this great article from The Detroit News about our
Steiner Logoassociate member Steiner Tractor Parts.  If you want to go and read the article go ahead but promise to come back!

What we liked about this was how well the article focused on the lifestyle of repairing old tractors and how that hobby has grown into a huge business: "What started as a four-page flyer...has grown into a 616 page phone-book size catalog..."  This is also a great example of something called "Earned Media" or sharing a story with reporters and then following up to make sure it's carried.  Remember this is in The Detroit News, not a rural publication but valuable in helping them build their brand.

And that's not all. A visit to the Steiner Tractor Parts website told us their crew is using all the marketing tools they can to increase their "findability". From Pinterest (Yes...Pinterest!) to Facebook and YouTube our friends at Steiner understand that marketing to multiple segments of the community pays off.

We just thought you might find it interesting and helpful as you continue to build your online and in person business.

Hope you had a fantastic Independence Day Holiday!


Paying Attention to your SEO?


SEO ImageThe world, it seems, buys from the computer. If not making the direct purchase from the computer we, at least, go to the Internet to find where we can buy an item. The Total Retail Survey of 2016 looks at the buying habits of consumers and in the United States and Canada 40% and 38% respectively make decision purchases based on product and supplier reviews.

But, first they have to find you.

We just completed a quick study using five different computers that have had zero interaction with agricultural parts. In other words the words "Ag", "Tractor" and "Parts" were never used in any product search. We know because we picked people without any connection with agriculture. In each test we asked our subjects to do a search for "Ag Tractor Parts" just to see who and what popped up.

The good news is that several National Tractor Parts Dealer Association regular members showed up on the first page of the search. There were also paid advertising on the first page and that varied from computer to computer. 

The bad news is that many of our members did not make the first, second or even the third page of the search. What can you do to improve your ranking and "findability"?

  • Paid Google Ad Words - You can pay for keywords and that investment will drive your search results but, frankly, it's a gamble;
  • Review Your Home Page - If the wording on your home page has not changed in some time the "search bots" look at that and think, "Nothing new here, let's move on!" It's critical that you alter, at least every month the wording on your home page and your "About Us" page. It will help get you found;
  • Social Media Interaction - If all you are doing is Facebook it is not enough. It helps but remember, you are limited to your "Likes". To reach out further you'll have to invest in other platforms. You could start to Instagram parts tractors, combines and people you work with. You could do SHORT YouTube videos of a delivery or a parts tractor or a burned combine it all matters and making sure you have keywords in your description helps;
  • Do a Blog - What better way is there for people to learn about your "back-story"? Tell about your founding, your experience, your customers...it all adds up.
  • Don't Just Broadcast - If you do Social Media don't just broadcast your message but interact with others. Ask questions, do a poll, have some fun. People don't always want to be "sold" they just want to be human and interact.

Hope this helps move your SEO and your website ranking.

 


Not So Rosy Down on the Farm

The numbers are staggering.  According to the USDA Farm sector profitability is forecast to decline for the Harvest Imagethird straight year. U.S. net cash farm income is forecast at $90.9 billion, down about 2.5 percent from the 2015 forecast levels. Net farm income is forecast to be $54.8 billion in 2016, down 3 percent. If realized, 2016 net farm income would be the lowest since 2002 (in both real and nominal terms) and a drop of 56 percent from its recent high of $123.3 billion in 2013.

So what?

Farmers all across the United States will be seeking ways in which to hold down their costs just to break even with last year. There isn't much they can do when it comes to seed and inputs but there is plenty they can do when it comes to fixing and repairing their equipment.

This is a golden opportunity to increase your sales and your standing in the agricultural community.  How? It may take some work but here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Let Farmers Know - Don't expect that all farmers know about you and your business. Take some time, and some cash, and let farmers know that you exist. That can come in the form of paid advertising or in social media; 
  • Focus on Cost Benefit - If you offer free shipping, quick delivery or any number of added value options make sure your customers are aware;
  • Create a Call to Action - Not every visitor coming to your website knows exactly what to do. Make it easy for the visitor to go to the right place. Tell the visitor if you have live chat or a message service where you can answer their questions quickly and accurately. Consumers often need to be told "what to do".

The downturn in farm income is real and when you reach out to your customers and let them know you understand and you are willing to help...you'll boost your brand and your sales.