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2024 Rural Lifestyle Dealer Business Trends & Outlook

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Rural lifestyle dealers are forecasting 2024 to be their most unique year in the last decade. These dealers, who serve homeowners, hobby farmers, landscape contractors and municipalities, had a strong 2022 and 2023, but are predicting new challenges for 2024. After dealing with — and continuing to battle — a mix of supply chain issues, rising interest rates and increasing costs of new equipment, their outlook has shifted vs. previous years.

Some highlights from the latest survey include:

  • Looking at their areas of concern and optimism for the year, aftermarket stands out as a strong revenue opportunity. Service revenue outlooks were once again positive overall, with 61.5% of dealers forecasting it to increase in 2024, and another 61.5% forecast the same for 2024 parts revenue.

  • For 2023, 46% of dealers estimated their wholegoods revenue was up 2% or more year-over-year, beating previous year expectations when only 22% forecast an increase.

  • When asked which equipment they saw at their “best bets” for improving unit sales in 2024, over half of dealers forecast their zero-turn mower sales up 2% or more, making it the #1 pick for 2024. 

  • This year’s report saw dealers continue to trend toward higher shop rates. The highest percentage (42%) of dealers are charging $101-$125 per hour, up from 39.4% in the last report and a 5-year high.

  • Dealers’ top concern for 2024 (measured by how few dealers are “least concerned”) was the impact rising interest rates will have on customer purchases. On this issue, 76.8% of dealers are “most concerned” and 19% are “concerned.”

  • This year’s report saw dealers trending toward carrying more brands. The percentages of dealers carrying 6-10 brands (35.5%), carrying 11-15 brands (8.6%) and carrying more than 15 brands (11.8%) were all up year-over-year and all reached 5-year highs.

To paint a clearer picture of the new challenges and opportunities dealers are facing, Ag Equipment Intelligence compiled the results of the Rural Lifestyle Dealer Business Trends & Outlook reports dating back to 2014. This analysis breaks down dealers’ forecasted revenue changes, equipment unit sales, brand offerings and more. Data from the latest survey (compiled in January 2024) is segmented to compare equipment dealers by the tractor brands they carry and by their reported number of employees.

The insights from this report are intended to help your business understand how to further penetrate the rural lifestyle equipment market and what this niche needs most from their equipment manufacturers and partners.