Seeking a solution to a troublesome home improvement project, I recently solicited advice from a variety of “experts” to determine the best course of action. While each source offered a different recommendation, the one I was most confident in deploying was from a company that guaranteed its solution.
Time will tell if I made the right decision, but at this point, at least I have a sense of security that the business will stand behind its work — for better or worse.
Talking with farm equipment dealers who have integrated agronomic services into their product-based precision farming business, it’s clear that many are still striving to carve out a profitable niche, especially in markets where farmers have multiple retailers or consultants soliciting agronomic guidance.
Building confidence with current and prospective customers is a key to increasing uptake. But as one dealer just breaking into the agronomic service business recently told me, “Anyone can sell these services. In my experience though, not everyone can support them, especially if something goes wrong.”
Indeed, those dealers invested in agronomy admit that it can be a tricky business and potentially a toxic one if there isn’t a reliable, qualified support team in place to stand by the program being sold to customers.
During our recent webinar on how dealerships are delivering agronomic services, one of the questions asked during the program was about the liability potential that dealerships can expose themselves to when entering the agronomic arena.
“It was a concern as to the potential liability we were opening ourselves up to, but what we’ve seen is that our customers will start out small with about 400-500 acres in our agronomy program,” says Scott Meldrum, Integrated Solutions Manager with Van Wall Equipment in Perry, Iowa. “We’re not in the retail agronomy business. Showing farmers the value on a personal level gets them confident that what we’re doing is right, and also allows us to intimately manage and support that side of the business.”
Lance Lindbloom, Agri-Coach with Torgerson’s in Havre, Mont., adds, “We consciously keep numbers down with 10-15 customers per agronomist because we want our customers to have a personal connection. It’s checks and balances on our side as well, having a second set of eyes analyze our recommendations.”
While everyone is entitled to make a mistake now and again, it’s something dealers can certainly plan to avoid when it comes to agronomic service. In a part of precision farming that will likely grow in the coming years, a difference maker could be having a reputation as a company that stands by its service, regardless of the results.