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ular rate, since these customers have already dedicated themselves to us,” Draude explains. “A lot of people say, ‘You’re not carrying a major brand,’ and I say, ‘I’ll put my guys up against any mainline for the same amount of service. Just because we don’t have their mainline brand doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be able to provide ser- vice at a superior level.’” So far, customers have been gen- erally receptive to the agreements, Draude says, but he adds that a big selling point is giving customers their money’s worth.

He says the goal is to eventually of-

fer tiered service plans based on cus- tomer needs and to give salespeople more flexibility when quoting prices. “Right now, if we can keep it as an all-in-one it takes the confusion out of it for salesmen and for the custom- ers,” he says. “In the future, we’ll

on a new line unless we’ve seriously researched it…

probably want to find the happy me- dium where we could make a lighter package and we can make a more ag- gressive one. As this process evolves, we’ll be looking at other levels. We won’t have any choice.”

” We don’t take

Brokaw has developed nearly 100 precision kits — for planters, tool bars and sidedress applications — to provide customers and salespeople with a handy resource for the right precision products to partner with farm equipment.

Building the Brand Flexibility is critical to Brokaw’s

success with its precision farming ser- vice offerings. This includes knowing when and where to invest time and money into a new product or program.

For the last two summers, Brokaw

has hosted a precision field day at the dealership to showcase their prod- ucts, but also to offer in-person ad- vice for attendees. “We use the event primarily to help

instill confidence in the customers that we interact with, and because of that

we usually pick up sales a lot of times right there at the event because they see the value in doing business with us,” Harthoorn says. “This past year we sold two sprayers at the field day. The year before we sold three. We might have gotten some of those deals anyway, but we wouldn’t have got all those deals if it wasn’t for our precision field day.” The plan for 2013 is to establish

multiple field days at several locations throughout Iowa as a way to reach more growers. But beyond the face-to-face interac- tion offered by Brokaw at its field days

The ability to attract and retain quality precision farming special- ists is a challenge many dealers face.

Brokaw Supply works closely with four community colleges and offers an internship program for students to get hands-on precision experience, prior to full-time employment.

The goal is to develop a pipeline of precision farming special- ists who will be a good fit with Brokaw’s culture. Precision Sales Manager Phil Draude teaches an advanced hardware course and has hand-picked students to become future precision farming specialists at Brokaw.

“I give them a two or three year objective and say, ‘This is what I will pay you if you go learn this before you come to me.’” Draude says. “Gain your experience in the industry and learn other prod- ucts, which will make you more valuable to the overall network we’re building.” Students are also brought in to do precision installs for cus- tomers in the field. This allows Draude to evaluate their technical


Brokaw Keeps Precision Talent in the Pipeline skills, but also their interaction with customers.

Taking a student out of the classroom setting and putting them in front of real customers gives Draude a sense of how well they think on their feet. “You can pick who has the customer relations skills, who is comfortable talking with the customer and then asking questions if they’re not sure,” he says. “You’re able to see what they’re going to do in an everyday environment. We need people who can think on their feet. Anybody can make a resume look good.” Brokaw also solicits feedback from customers on the type of precision specialist they want working at the dealership and then works with community colleges and local universities to find stu- dents who best fit the profile.

After on-farm installs or student training sessions, Draude will ask customers what they liked or didn’t like about the students. “We really rely on our customers’ feedback when developing our team,” Draude notes. “It’s a win-win for us.”

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