Only 24 percent of dealers reported that 2010 failed to meet their expectations for sales, according to FE&S' 2011 Dealer Forecast Study. And 76 percent report that their 2010 sales will increase or at least stay the same as 2009 levels.
Although prebooked business for 2011 is not on the rise, dealers' sales expectations are improving. For example, 90 percent of dealers project their sales will increase (61 percent) or stay the same. And it does not appear as if one single factor is driving this positive outlook. When citing which factors will be responsible for their improved outlook, 40 percent of dealers pointed to design/build-related revenues, while 36 percent said replacement business and 24 percent said customer renovations.
Examining the industry by segment, dealers feel that casual dining (59 percent), family dining (51 percent), hospitals (47 percent) and schools — both colleges and universities as well as high schools and grade schools — offer the strongest growth potential in 2011. Other segments with potential to grow from the dealer perspective include fast casual, lodging and long-term senior care. Conversely, 58 percent of dealers see the fine-dining segment as a declining opportunity for them.
In addition to better sales, 76 percent of dealers expect their gross profits to increase (32 percent) or stay the same. Among those dealers projecting an increase in gross profits, the average rate is 11.3 percent. The top three product categories driving the dealer increase in gross profits are heavy equipment, light equipment and smallwares.
Outlining their priorities for next year, the dealer community seems pretty well-grounded. For example, 70 percent cite retaining customers as their top priority for the coming year. Other dealer priorities for next year include improving customer service and building market share.