COLUMBUS, Ohio — Putting in the hard work early in the year, especially when the weather is bad, can lay the groundwork for years to come.
That was the overriding message presented by John Zurcher, COO of BestOne Tire, and Loudan Hammersmith, national ag sales manager at K&M Tire, when the pair spoke about K&M's "Farmer's Day" initiative during K&M Tire's annual dealer conference held in late January.
The Delphos, Ohio-based wholesale tire company employs more than 750 at 31 locations, servicing customers in 27 states. The company has been in business for 50 years.
While presenting a seminar on changes in the agriculture tire industry, Messrs. Zurcher and Hammersmith talked about K&M Tire's Farmer's Day initiative. This is an annual event meant to better connect the tire dealer with his or her customers.
The idea, Mr. Zurcher said, is about building a long-term relationship with the customer.
"It's not so much about what the event is, it's about laying the groundwork. ... The most important part is the work being done in January and February that can set you up for the rest of the year," he said.
There are 67,000 fewer farms in operation in the U.S. since 2012, Mr. Hammersmith said, and the average size of farms are growing. So the industry is facing a situation where there are less possible customers, but those customers are working much larger farms than a generation ago.
While the details of Farmer's Day is really left up to the individual tire dealer, the men said many stores started with something simple, like a pancake breakfast.
Mr. Hammersmith told the story of one tire dealer who took it a step further and used Farmer's Day as an excuse to visit customers on their farms and take note of tires they were using and measure the condition of the tires.
"He did more sales in a day then he did the last month and a half," Mr. Hammersmith said.
To plan a Farmer's Day, they recommended to get the word out to customers in every way possible — from mailers to talking with customers in store to social media.
For farm visits, they suggest picking a day early in the year before planting season and visiting when the weather is bad and there is a greater possibility the farmer won't be out working in the field. During the visit, walk around the equipment with the customer, take a tread depth, check the air pressure and inspect tires for damage or wear. if you have your service truck with you, inflate tires with low pressure.
Finally, leave the customer with a card that notes any tires that are in need of replacement (along with specifics like size and load index).
Making this an annual visit will put the salesman in a much better position to make a sale, since they can compare how the customer's tires have worn in the last year.