So, are you an ag tire dealer or are you a tire dealer that sells some ag tires? What makes you an ag tire dealer? What do you do differently than your competitors who claim to be ag tire dealers? Do your customers know you’re an ag tire dealer? All interesting questions to ponder, but to be known in your community as the go-to ag tire dealer, there are several things you can do to serve your farm accounts well—and they include much more than providing superior quality tires.
Be a Resource for Technical Information
Keep your staff updated with new developments in ag tire technology, implementation, benefits, costs and other pertinent details to help them make informed decisions. Making credible, informed recommendations fosters confidence in your customers and helps build a secure, long-term relationship.
The reality is dealers need to offer more than just one option, regardless of what they are known for. Every ag tire fitment will have different requirements for quality or performance depending on the farming application. Primary tractors, combines and sprayers will fit into the high-performance category. Other fitments on less frequently used equipment will generally fit into the lower-performance category. Be able to offer various quality, performance and pricing options.
Solve Ag Tire Problems
When farmers call a tire dealer, they have a problem that needs to be fixed or questions that need to be answered. The better you can answer questions or be quicker to resolve the problem, the happier your farmer customers will be. Time is critical when farmers have equipment in the field. Downtime is a top priority. Problem solving also occurs during the off-season. You need to have the resources to answer questions, resolve problems and provide reliable information.
Offer On-Farm Service
This is critical in order to retain customers and be their go-to tire resource. Service is key to keeping your farmer customers calling you. When they have a tire failure, it is likely an emergency, and they’ll call someone who can fix the problem quickly and get them back up and running. You must be able to offer quick, reliable and reasonable field service to keep business and attract new customers.
Understand the Differences in Ag Tire Offerings
No dealer can carry all options available in the ag tire market. All dealers should know what is offered in the market, the relative performance, quality and cost factors so they can offer educated recommendations to their customers. Not carrying a particular product line does not mean that line isn’t good enough for your customers. Do you have a suitable substitution for that product line? Just because you have certain tires in inventory does not make them the right tire for your customers. You need to be able to justify your recommendations with accurate information to build trust with your customers.
Offer Tire Inspection Programs
Farmers continually monitor, maintain, fix and replace equipment that is critical to their operations. Not many farmers have the knowledge, experience or resources to perform quality tire inspections, project remaining service life and replace tires before one causes a major disruption to their operation. Dealers who can offer this type of inspection service become very important to a farming operation.
If you can minimize downtime from tire failures by offering an inspection service, along with solid recommendations on a tire management plan, you can set your dealership apart from the competition. A winter-time inspection with tread depths, air pressures, hours per 32-in. of tread depth and projections on remaining service life—as well as damaged tires that may need replacement—would be extremely valuable. A pre-harvest inspection would also be timely and valuable. Tire management decisions lead to preparation and plans to handle tire stocking requirements and replacements before your farmers get into their busy season. An inspection program is a dealership’s investment in your customers and can solidify your value to your farmer customer.
Understand Air Pressure
Your staff needs to recommend the appropriate pressures for all tires on the farm and understanding how pressure affects performance is key. Maximum air pressures are commonly recommended, but aren’t necessarily the best for each application. Sure, the maximum pressure reduces tire damage and failures, but, quite often, they don’t allow the tires to offer the maximum benefits they are designed to deliver. Minimizing compaction and maximizing traction are high on the list of attributes farmers expect from their tires, especially for equipment that runs in their fields. Maximum air pressures do not maximize the footprint or optimize the traction on tractor tires. Inflating to the most demanding application is the best recommendation to avoid tire damage while maximizing performance.
Understand Your Customers
Good dealers keep a pulse on what is happening in the ag community, for example, what economic factors could be influencing a customer’s buying decisions. Quoting prices is great, but usually not the most important. Farmers, as well as most customers, want to know why you recommend the tires you do so they feel engaged and involved in the purchase.
Good salespeople don’t “sell” their customers—they educate them about why they’re recommending a certain type of tire and what other options to consider. When your customers understand their options, it provides an opportunity to make a choice instead of just being force-fed a particular product. Doing this allows your customers to own that decision. Pricing also becomes less of an obstacle with this approach. Asking questions to fully understand the problem, equipment, application and the specific situation is key. This demonstrates your concern about your customer’s needs and leads to a solid tire recommendation.
Some dealers want to be everything to everybody, and the way to do that in the ag business is by being a resource to your farm customers—if you are truly in the ag business. Downtime is critical to any farming operation. If you can minimize a farm’s downtime, you might become the support they need, which can lead to your business fitting more wheel positions on the farm. When this happens, you can be assured that “cheap” pricing will not steal a farm account away from you because the efficiency of your service and track record for taking care of your customers brings loads of value to the table.