Successfully selling precision farming services is an annual objective for many farm equipment dealerships. Getting farm customers to pay for software updates, in-field support and hardware installations is a challenge.
But what about connecting customers’ ag tech and equipment investments with a long-term business plan for their farm operation? With generational transitions taking place or forthcoming on many farms, the role dealerships play in the decision-making process is also changing.
One potential opportunity on the horizon could be selling customers strategic planning services, says Arlin Sorensen, founder and CEO of HTS Ag, an independent precision dealership in Harlan, Iowa.
Sorensen, who started out in the IT industry, suggests that in the future, dealers could model their service offerings to provide comprehensive business guidance rooted in the relationships they have with customers. This evolution has taken shape in the IT industry, with service providers selling strategic planning services to complement software and hardware sales.
“What we're going to see over the course of the next years is, as operations become larger and more complicated, they're going to be coming to us for more consulting advice, around strategic planning and some of those kinds of things. It's what we've seen on the IT side as we grew there. As people got mature as they had their benchmarking figured out, then they were looking for, ‘OK, now that I have this information, what do I do with it to really move the needle in my company?’ That's where we got involved with doing a lot of strategic planning, coaching, and some of those kinds of things. I think we'll see that come into the farm space as well because the stakes are getting higher and higher every year.”
Sorensen adds that the next generation of farmers are already far more data-driven in their decision making. As they look to leverage data to improve farm profitability, they will also be more proactive in developing a long-term business plan, which will provide an opportunity for innovative precision farming dealers.