What are the essential components of a precision ag field day for farm customers and how has your dealership benefited from hosting or sponsoring these events?
“Each year in early August, we host a field day for our customers with all of our equipment. On the precision farming side we set up a separate tent and area for precision farming demonstrations. What I think has really helped us is the timing in early August, because customers aren’t as busy and they have time to come out.
“We struggle with our winter events, because they conflict with timing of farm shows, guys planning for the new year and old crop grain getting hauled to the elevator, which farmers also need to get done during that time. For our August event, we usually get 500 or more customers from all 5 of our stores. Good planning in advance helps and a good location also helps. We usually try to centralize our field day for all of our stores.
“Last year, we demonstrated Trimble’s Vehicle Sync by using three New Holland Rustlers and a display set up in the tent. We showed customers how to transfer guidance lines from one unit to the other and it went really smooth. A week before the precision field day we set up the equipment and that’s a good time for us to learn new technology.
"It’s a lot harder to sell something you’ve never tried, so getting to work with products in advance gives us a boost as well as the customer who gets to see it before they buy it.
“We also set up our field demonstration tractors with auto-guidance and we really try to promote precision products during the field day. Field days are well worth the time and they sell everything for us. Farmers we haven’t reached view us as a top notch group when we show them new technologies they haven’t even heard about yet.”
— Spud Armstrong, Ag Technologies, Rochester, Ind.
“In the past, we’ve tried many different types of customer events and we have found that a ‘hands-on’ event works the best. In the past, we have demonstrated John Deere’s AutoTrac (the difference between SF1 and RTK), RowSense, section control and many other products. We’ve had great feedback from our customers because they can actually drive the machines and see how the products work.
“The main benefit is the customers get to see the product before they buy it. It’s helped us set expectations of the advantages and the limitations of products up front. Holding these events not only increases sales but it provides a value to the customer.”
— Jeremy Marston, Precision Equipment LLC, Muscatine, Iowa
“The number one component is a hands-on experience with equipment and making hardware available for potential customers to play with. It can be either the real item, or simulators.
“The second key item that has helped our business with these kind of events is to have the right kind of people there from the company representing the product that is been sold. Make sure no one goes home with a question unanswered.
“The third key is to make sure the growers or customers that are invited do not feel embarrassed or afraid to ask questions. We try to make them feel like it is their day, not ours.”
— Andy Briggs, Crop IMS, Bristol, Wis.