Collaboration is usually the answer to solving a complex problem, and precision farming is no exception. Peer groups are a common way for small, independent dealers and larger, multi-store OEM retailers alike, to share ideas and strategies. 

But why would you join a group to share ideas with your competitor? Here are a few things to keep in mind when joining a peer group and shifting your focus from an individual perspective to shared vision.

To validate your best ideas, use a collaborative approach. The diverse number of products and systems available in precision farming means your dealership doesn’t carry everything. Use this collaboration to direct farm customers to other dealers that may be able help. It all comes back to the relationship you’re building with the neighboring dealers and the farmers.

The days of outselling someone are gone. In the age of the internet, growers often know the equipment they need and dealers need to collaborate to be the solutions provider. The product itself and its service needs may require more knowledge than just one dealership is able to provide. 

“The technology requires collaboration. The single most important factor is networking,” says Jayme Paquin of Reichhardt Electronic Innovations in Sabin, Minn. Sometimes, asking another dealer for potential solutions to problems will be much quicker than reaching the manufacturer directly.

“When you step back and put yourself in the position of the precision specialist, we’re just here to make it work and if that means calling up the neighboring dealership, so be it,” says Rod Capitani from Martin & Sullivan in Roanoke, Ill. “There’s strength in numbers when providing support for new technology.”

When you share information, expect information in return. In a peer group, be cautious of sharing sales data and specific customer pricing information. The purpose of a peer group isn’t to take customers from other dealers, but it is an opportunity to problem-solve and idea share. 

Establishing a peer group could be as simple as gathering at a local meeting spot once a month. Dealers agree that every peer group needs a leader to coordinate meetings and discussion topics. Share contact information so ideas and questions can be easily relayed to each other.

A newly established peer group should have a concrete goal. Develop the goal based on what the precision dealer needs are in the area. The goal could be motivating and finding employees, producing better marketing strategies and promotions, creating a troubleshooting network or even just developing friendships. A facilitator can be hired or invited to ensure things continue on track if the goal needs to be met in a timely matter. 

Overall, a peer group can ensure that you are able to provide solutions to all customers and build better relationships with neighboring dealers that will provide long-term benefits.