Ohio precision dealer Tim Norris develops software program to track sales potential and streamline delivery of products and services to customers.
Even though the majority of crops are harvested, the next several weeks will be some of the busiest for precision farming dealers.
This is the time of year many are soliciting orders for next year’s technology and making sure customers are prepared for planting. Organization is critical to avoiding chaos and for turning those customer contacts into sales.
But precision farming dealers don’t always pay as much attention as they should to the management side of their business, notes Tim Norris, CEO of Ag Info Tech in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
“A lot of times, people in this business know how to sell and service the technology and have a real passion for their job,” he says. “But they aren’t business managers and they don’t like to deal with the red tape so they hire more people to help out.”
Delegating duties is a good strategy, but only if it’s done with defined purpose and direction. Like some precision farming dealers, Norris sells and services precision hardware, but he also provides grid sampling and data management services to customers.
“What is important for us is that each person knows what their responsibility is from our service technicians, soil sampling managers and billing and accounts payable,” he says. “My goal is to make sure I have one person in charge of each area and even as the boss, if I’m going into someone else’s area, they are the boss of me that day.”
To help streamline and organize precision operations, this past year Norris developed a software platform known as AgriVault. For customers, the system is sold as a data management collection, storage and analysis tool.
But for the dealership, it’s a centralized database for employees to create and organize product and service quotes online.
“This program allows us to manage our business and keep track of service and installation and make sure we get everything billed we’re supposed to for each job,” Norris says. “It’s critical for us to track what parts we need, how many quotes our salespeople have out to customers and how much money is attached to those quotes.”
Once a price is quoted to a customer for a new yield monitor or soil sampling package, it’s entered online. If the customer makes the purchase, the office manager makes sure the product is in stock or ordered, and an installation date is scheduled. The technician assigned to the job knows when the product will be ready and can complete the job.
But beyond logging completed work orders, Norris says the system allows the dealership’s salespeople to more effectively target customers. Every Monday, salespeople are emailed a list of growers with open quotes, which serves as a weekly reminder to follow up with those customers and potential customers.
“Then when we have our bi-monthly meetings, we’ll pull up the information and see where we’re at with certain customers,” he says. “We’ve been able to go back and get some nice sales and capture revenue we would have otherwise lost without those reminders. Sometimes we’ll write a quote and then get busy, so we’re not always following up like we should.”
Norris says he will begin leasing the AgriVault software to other dealerships and pitching the software management tool as not only a timesaver, but a moneymaker.
“If a dealership makes one $10,000 sale, they will have paid for the system for a year,” he says. “We’re pretty excited because it’s made it a lot easier for us to manage our sales and also identify those opportunities where we can generate additional revenue.”