Conversing with members of the Independent Precision Ag Alliance precision dealer peer group at our summer meeting this week in Omaha, there was both casual and pointed discussion on the aftermath of spring planting.
Around the table, dealers shared stories of unusually quick-tempered customers and poorly-timed employee burnout. But members also spoke of sales conversion and collection challenges that compounded some of the seasonal frustrations.
One dealer spoke of a high volume of “not no” but “not now” customers when approached with technology upgrades or expansions ahead of planting. “Customers were skittish about closing some of those deals and investing in hardware early,” he says. “So this summer, we’re going to be launching a new finance program to convert some of those ‘not nows’ with a 0% finance and payment plan option.”
Getting customers to promptly pay for precision hardware purchases — especially those made prior to planting — proved to be another point of pain. Members brainstormed options for preventing prolonged customer debits, which included a restocking fee for unpaid invoices extending beyond 30 days or simply requiring payment at point of sale.
Several dealers shared horror stories of customers who purchased planter systems prior to spring, called with setup questions, but then became difficult to reach once the season wound down to collect payment.
Said one dealer, “I tend to put my farmer hat on and assume I get at least 30 days, which I know from a dealer standpoint, is costing me money. But 95% of customers pay in a timely manner. It’s that other 5% that are difficult.”
Looking at the next several months, dealers are trying to balance recovery from spring planting with reinvesting in sales opportunities. Trying to capture elusive revenue from early-year sales is an ongoing challenge, but one which dealers hope to solve ahead of harvest.