Dealer Research: How Can Manufacturers Support Dealers with the Most Growth Potential

Team Huebner
10 May, 2022

One thing we’ve learned over the past 3 decades is that a strong dealer network is core to the success of a manufacturing brand. This is especially true when times get tough—think the 2008 Recession or the 2020 Pandemic tough.

It’s in these tight times that dealers have to make strategic decisions about the brands they carry and the brands they recommend to consumers. Time and time again, it’s the brands that offer strong support to their dealer networks and sales channels that survive the lows and come out stronger on the other side. 

This truth is why we focus so much of our integrated marketing strategy on strengthening the brand/dealer relationship. And why we specialize in helping our clients—manufacturers of all shapes and sizes—become true partners to their sales channels.

Straight from the Dealers’ Mouth

We recently surveyed more than 200 retailers of big-ticket outdoor items like boats, RVs, and ATVs. We wanted to get a pulse on the current state of brand/dealer relationships and to find out how manufacturers could better support their dealers this year.

The results of our research showed that nearly half (49%) of dealers saw business growth of more than 10% in the previous year. And another 41% have plans to increase the number of brands they carry in the coming year.

Growth In the Next Year

This presents an awesome opportunity for manufacturers of all kinds to gain new sales partners, especially among those dealers with the greatest potential for growth.

Two Segments of Interest

Our research revealed two distinct audiences with notable growth potential: young dealerships and those in what we call “growth mode.”

Young Dealerships

The first segment of interest is younger dealerships. Here, the data was very clear: 

Younger dealerships, those that have been in business for less than 20 years, are more likely than older dealerships to be adding to the number of brands they carry.

By focusing on the up-and-coming players in their sales channels, manufacturers could become fast friends and brand heroes when those dealers need it most. (Read on for the most impactful ways to make that happen!).

Dealerships in Growth Mode

The second segment of interest is those that have been growing and plan to continue. We call this “growth mode,” (like Hulk mode, but with less potential for damage).

By comparing the dealers who report the most growth and those who plan to add to the list of brands they carry, dealers in this heavy growth mode emerge. 

Growth Mode Dealers

This segment offers particularly interesting insights into what growing businesses want and need from the brands they carry.

What Growing Dealers Want

So what are the top contributing factors that cause these “growth mode” dealers to carry a particular brand? 

For dealerships in growth mode, demand for a product or brand and product relevancy are the top two considerations when it comes to carrying a particular brand.

Why Carry a Brand

A 60% majority of growing dealerships consider product relevancy a major deciding factor when considering brands to carry. 

Our experience tells us that product relevancy is in fact a contributing factor to product demand. So it’s there that we advise our manufacturers to focus.

The Right Tools for the Job 

Our research also revealed the importance of Sales Enablement tools in building a strong and lasting relationship with dealers, especially those in “growth mode.” In fact, 72% of all respondents say sales enablement and marketing tools from the manufacturer are very or extremely important.

Sales enablement tools allow companies to equip their sales team at every stage of the sales process, from lead capture to a closed deal.

When asked which tools would be most helpful, dealers in growth mode responded with warranty (53%), incentives (31%), and sales leads (31%) at the top of the list. They can leverage tools like these to accelerate that growth even further.


  • Warranty and Support 53% 
  • Incentives 31% 
  • Sales Leads 31% 
  • Cooperative Advertising Programs 29% 
  • Sales Lead Follow-Up 29% 
  • Post-Sales Customer Service Offerings (For Buyer) 27% 
  • Sales Training 25% 
  • Sales Events 22% 

The easier a manufacturer can make these tools to use, the better chance they have of being adopted by their frontline sales team.

Powerful sales enablement programs enable a sales team to tell your brand story and everybody wins (manufacturer, retailer, and the salesperson).

Opportunities for Manufacturers

So what’s a manufacturer to do with this valuable data? Focus on supporting the dealers in your network with a strong brand story and relevant, useful sales enablement tools. And use the same core strategies to attract new dealer partners looking for growth this year. 

In a quickly expanding industry, it is easy for brands to get lost in the noise. Finding the most relevant and most valuable brand positioning opportunities available is becoming a key component of working with growing dealers.

Our advice? Take a close look at your company, your team, and your customer perceptions to gain a clear understanding of creating a more relevant brand. This will help you create a path to execute the right actions, at the right time, in the right order.

Get the full report and insights here.

Brand Dealer Trends