Case Study

A Peer To Peer Learning Toolkit

Preparing independent dealerships for the future

When Covid-19 hit last year, little did anyone know the effect it would have on small business owners, especially those who rely heavily on face to face relationships. As the crisis continued and with no end in sight Service Dealer asked for support from TAP, to develop a range of learning resources to help its readers get their businesses visible online and to protect their revenue.


TAP’s sister company Land Power Publications, owns Service Dealer magazine.

As the voice of the industry, Service Dealer’s role is to inform and educate its readers (agricultural and garden machinery dealers and manufacturers) and as such in 2020-21, they sought TAP’s help to develop a series of free learning modules to help dealerships futureproof their businesses and expand their digital activity. 

Learning & Engagement - SD Toolkit


There have been a number of testing changes dealers have faced over the last few years, from discounted internet sellers to the surge in battery products with less servicing requirements.  All resulting an erosion in sales and margin.  Many dealers also found themselves in difficulty when Covid hit, like most retail businesses. With showrooms closed and people told to stay at home, it became increasingly difficult for dealerships repairing and selling garden and agricultural machinery to keep going.

Whilst some dealers were able to adapt quickly to running their business through their digital channels, others found themselves struggling to know where to begin. As the pandemic progressed, it was clear that longer term solutions were needed to protect revenues for these types of businesses, if they were going to survive.

With varying abilities existing when it came to digital activity, we understood that any guidance that Service Dealer was going to offer its readers, needed to be suitable for complete beginners as well as more advanced users. It was also going to need to be manageable and scalable for one-man-bands to handle, as well as those businesses with a dedicated marketing resource.

We weren’t to patronise dealers or be too authoritative. Dealership owners are predominantly independently owned, family businesses, that are several generations old. This means that the owners know their business better than anyone else ever could – so we needed to be mindful of this.

Our Approach

We created the Service Dealer Toolkit, within the existing Service Dealer website, sat behind a log-in, to allow us to collect data about the users.  

We started with one module in 2020– covering everything there was to know about digital communications and how best to use them in a dealership. Then in 2021 we added a further module, exploring ways for businesses to protect their revenue, as the pandemic continued. Our template allows us to add more modules in the future too.

Learning & Engagement - SD Toolkit

Topics were split into bite-size chapters, covering everything from the basics of setting up social media channels to developing email marketing and using Google For Business. In the second module we looked at different ideas for diversifying the business and also some easy to implement actions to refresh the look and feel of a business.

Content for the hub was written with dealers in mind and everything was given a practical example of how it would work for a dealership. We held regular Think Tank sessions with successful dealers to find out from them what works and what doesn’t. Their input into the content was imperative, to give the Toolkit integrity and first-hand expertise.



Video was also key. It allowed us to bring each chapter to life and also to inspire dealerships by hearing directly from their peers. Several of our Think Tank attendees recorded videos for us, which we then edited to create short, succinct videos at key points throughout the Toolkit.

We combined the practical expertise from the dealers, with our own knowledge, having developed communications strategies for businesses globally and building brand identities.


Topics Covered

  • Why social media is important
  • Getting started with digital
  • Generating content and the perfect posts
  • Increasing followers
  • Website
  • How to budget for digital activity
  • Digital marketing channels
  • Google
  • Diversification
  • Creating long-term customers
  • Merchandising
  • The art of selling
Learning & Engagement - SD Toolkit

Marketing The Toolkit

We released the Toolkit chapter by chapter, to allow some of those dealers that were new to these topics, the opportunity to complete them step by step. Each week they had tangible take-aways to complete, even if it was simply to start thinking about how they could change their business or introduce something new.

We made use of all of the Service Dealer channels to market the Toolkit, including across social media. However, our main channel used was the publication’s weekly email – the Service Dealer Weekly Update, where we gave coverage to the Toolkit each week, as each chapter was released. We also emailed dealerships that had signed up at the very beginning to remind them of the Toolkit and to highlight the new module when we were ready to release it.


There has been an overwhelming response to the Toolkit, with approximately 20% of dealerships signing up. Feedback has been very good from dealers, but also from the wider industry too, enabling us to offer sponsorship packages.

“I had a good read through the toolkit and found it informative. We’ve been able to implement a few changes in our communications to customers as a result and we are working on some other developments too.”

Craig Walker - Group Sales Manager at Ross Agri Services Ltd