To the Point:

After avoiding it for 9 years, last week I broke down and bought a new PC. During his sales pitch, the young man said something that got my attention. “If you need ‘help’ setting it up or after you start running it, you can call our service people.” My only question to him was, “How much?”

About the only thing I know about these retail computer stores is, while they advertise great low prices on their equipment, their after-sale services are not free, nor are they necessarily cheap.

Their pitch for their after-sales services is built in to their hardware sales pitch, and is part of the discussions from the getgo. It’s clear that customers will need to pay a fee for the services.

Farm equipment dealers need to figure out how to do the same when it comes to selling and servicing precision farming equipment. Some have already started down that path. (See Farm Equipment’s Dealership of the Year coverage of JayDee AgTech, July/August 2011) So far, most dealers have accepted the high cost of after-sales service of this equipment as a cost of keeping customers happy; the cost of keeping them from going elsewhere.

This can’t go on forever. The development of new systems for precision farming applications is coming in waves. It’s beginning to overwhelm some dealers and leaving many others scratching their heads trying to figure out how to make servicing it into a profit center.

It’s not going to be easy telling farmers that they’re going to have to start paying for service you’ve been giving away for free (or almost free) for the past few years. But we know they will pay for it if it’s worth their while.

This concept, along with our dialog with farmers who say their dealers are lightyears behind them in GPS technology knowledge, was the impetus for our new electronic publication, Precision Farming Dealer.

Debuting in January, its editorial mission is to be the informational clearinghouse for dealers on precision farming technologies and their application, as well as how to market, sell and service it for increased customer value.”

The key to this mission statement is “customer value.”

Farmers who see and understand the value of a product or service will pay for it, but value needs to be sold. As one of the shortline executives interviewed for the special report in this issue of Farm Equipment, says, “The old dried up ‘features and benefits’ pitch that we’ve used for so many years is no longer adequate in addressing customer needs.”

We can’t sell value like we do iron.

Our new e-publication is designed to not only keep our readers on top of the latest applications, but how to market and sell them. It will also be a forum for dealers to talk to other dealers.

Our research shows that nearly 20% of dealers are planning to hire precision farming specialists in the next year. That’s maybe 1,000 dealers searching for this special and hard-to-find talent. Our 2011 Dealership of the Year, JayDee AgTech, alone is looking for 15 specialists.

Boyd Hofman, JayDee’s general sales manager, calls precision farming a “game-changer.” He says, “It’ll set us apart from competitors, and put us in closer partnership with the farmer.”

Are you ready to change the game?

By the way, I bought the service for my new PC and wireless printer. It was about 20% of the total purchase price.

Dave Kanicki

Back to January 2012 SHOWCASE Issue Homepage