On the eve of our 4th annual National Strip-Tillage Conference last week in Omaha, Neb., I had the opportunity to assemble a group of farmers for a dinner roundtable discussion on some of the precision farming practices and tools they’ve implemented on their farming operation.

Part of the conversation centered on precision purchasing habits and the most influential factors when deciding to make an investment in a new piece of technology. The consensus at the table was that, unlike with larger ag machinery, brand loyalty was less important than support of a precision system.

But each farmer also acknowledged their loyalty to a particular service provider needs to be earned. Just because a dealer recommends a particular product, doesn’t mean it’s right for their farm.

Having an intimate knowledge of not only what types of technology a customer needs, but also why, can be a competitive advantage. One of the strip-tillers shared a story about his frustration with the quality of support offered by his primary equipment dealer’s precision department.

The frustration came to a head when the farmer began incorporating different brands of tractors on his operation and also saw the opportunity to explore a change in his primary precision support.

“One thing about the precision specialist who we were working with along with our equipment dealer is he always came around and was there if we needed him,” the farmer says. “One day, he walked into our shop and I said, ‘I think we’re going to need you. What can you do for me?’”

The farmer admits the persistence and reliability of the specialist won him over and was his entry point into doing business with a dealership he’d done very little with in the past.

Farmers have a variety of advisors, consultants and retailers vying for their time and money. But my impression is, those dealers who are willing to invest their energy and effort in providing a customized solution for customers, will see that investment pay off with a mutually beneficial business relationship.