As many dealerships canvass the precision farming landscape for additional help, it was interesting to receive a call last week from an experienced precision technician who recently decided to start his own business.
My first thought was that it seemed like an odd move to make, considering dealerships are clamoring for precision talent.
Surely, a job with an established dealership looking to grow their precision department would be more comfortable than going through the rigors of starting a company from scratch.
But then I considered the upside of being your own boss. For starters, there is considerably less overhead.
The precision entrepreneur in Iowa says he essentially works out of a home office and set up a shop area to handle minor repairs. For larger jobs, he partners with a local garage where farmers can bring their machinery.
“With precision farming, so much of it requires on-farm visits,” he says. “So not having a store front saves me overhead.”
Another potential plus to starting a precision business is the freedom to be selective with customers. This would-be precision dealer says his approach to developing a customer base as a single proprietor is “quality over quantity.”
“Farmers are willing to spend a little more on a product and get better service, than get a discount on the product and pay for all the service,” he says.
Of course one person can only do so much — a problem even larger dealerships encounter with only one or two people handling precision farming.
But in a dealership setting, there is at least a safety net of sorts, with other sales or service personnel to lend a hand during busy stretches.
He acknowledges that being on his own now is not without it’s challenges. While he’s been able to leverage his past relationships with precision suppliers to be able to carry their products with the new business, there is certainly pressure not only to sell the hardware, but support it as well.
This means using his own truck, his own tools, organizing customer records on his laptop and making sure he stays current with pricing and product catalogs.
No small task, especially as we head into planting season when precision farming technicians are bombarded by service calls.
But I admire the effort, even if another six months from now his solo venture doesn’t pan out.
As he puts it, “You never know whether you will succeed or fail at something, unless you try.”
With the rapid growth of precision farming, there may not be a better time to try going it alone.