As precision farming dealers, how do you organize/track customer orders for precision hardware involving multiple brands/product types for customers, and what can manufacturers do to make the process more efficient?

Answers: (see "Part 1")

“We try to keep ordering limited to a few personnel. This helps with making sure orders are not forgotten and delayed. The precision farming specialist for each location does the majority of the ordering. They help with keeping track of items and once ordered, each customer will have a work order for what was ordered for them. 

“This helps streamline large orders made in the spring and fall so they are received and are ready for delivery or install in a timely manner. When dealing with multiple vendors the biggest challenge is getting everything in a timely manner. 

“One manufacture may have everything in stock and another may have the part you need on back order. This leads to time spent trying to track down components from other sources and can take longer to get the customer’s order filled.  One thing the manufactures could do to make the process more efficient is to make orders easier to track. 

“For the CNH precision farming store, any components ordered can be tracked and when you can expect them to be delivered. This is nice when customers are calling looking for something that they’ve ordered.”

— Jason Pennycook,
Johnson Tractor Inc.,
Janesville, Wis.

“We order most of our precision products from Trimble through CNH. We use our business system to mark who a part is ordered for if it is special order. Stock units come in just like any other part. The biggest thing we have an issue with is getting a promise for ship dates from Trimble. Even though we order through CNH, it ships directly from Trimble and that communication process could be improved greatly. Until we place an order, availability is something they won’t discuss. We would like to get an idea of availability when discussing a sale to a customer. In a business where navigation is important, the delivery of the product is sometimes not so transparent.”

Mike Robling,
Birkey’s Farm Stores,
Hoopeston, Ill.

“Since we are a New Holland dealer, when we order parts from them, they are tracked through our business operating system so we can tell what’s on order and what’s not. We have a lot of luck with buying CNH precision products but we are also an Ag Leader dealer and we still run it through the same system but it is more difficult. 

“In my mind, the manufacturer should have everything available to order online with the information there so the dealer can look at the orders and track their progress. There has been more than once when something was to be ordered and it didn’t get through. It doesn’t matter if it was our fault or that of the manufacturer. It got missed and we were waiting on that part. 

“It would be nice if we could have our parts personnel set up every morning so they could check a website that shows all the orders by date and if they are in progress, shipped, etc. Then we’ll know the orders have been seen on the other end and when they will probably be at the store. 

“The best bet is to stock parts you use a lot and make sure you don’t run out. That is hard because we don’t have a lot of parts history in our situation, as we are a relatively new business. That takes several years to really get good, reliable information, so we make good stock orders to have the right parts on hand when we need them.”

— Spud Armstrong,
Ag Technologies,
Rochester, Ind.

“Fortunately, I have been blessed with a very good memory and can tell you just about every piece of equipment I have ever sold to customers and any other equipment they have. We have looked into this lately to figure out how we can let everyone know in the organization what the customer has. With John Deere, they have a profile in StellarSupport that normally has all of the equipment they have purchased under their account. With myjohndeere.com, it’s making it easier for customers to have a “one-stop place to shop” for all of their information regarding John Deere.

“If they have Ag Leader, Trimble, Leica or another brand, we have a spreadsheet with names and equipment on it. So we’re aware that if we’re trading the tractor in whether there is precision equipment with it. Other than that, we work on a collaborative effort with the manufacturers around us to make sure the customers are getting what the need. Otherwise, you don’t have a whole lot of a choice.

— Matthew Rohlik,
Haug Implement Co.,
Willmar, Minn.