In 2019, the Department of Agriculture expects U.S. farmers to plant 237 million acres in a matter of weeks. On the farm, this means extremely long days, time away from the family and added stress. To get through this intense time, it requires a great support system (family, employees and friends).
What farmers often don’t see is that in the weeks leading up to planting, their seed company, dealer or retailer is going through an equally intense season — the seed treating season, a six- to eight-week period of intense work preparing the seed to be planted. During this time, much can go wrong and it’s important that we have good support systems in place.
Even when you’re surrounded by good support, I’ve found that you’ve got to set the expectation and communicate. Let employees and family know what is required this time of year and why it’s important. If you can help them prepare for it, the less likely that they will be disappointed.
These long days can be intensified by isolation. To help ease some of the stress and not leave people feeling like they are out on an island, one of the things we try to do is provide group dinners. These might be on the road or in a shop. It’s the little things that can make a big difference when working long hours.
As a small company, we work extensively to ensure we have the support systems in place and to be a trusted supplier. Within the value chain, it’s critical that we can trust the people we work with, including suppliers, customers, colleagues and team members. This is the time of the year when nearly all our employees from many different departments convert to a support role, for which they’ve been training for the past five months.
Our sales team shifts gears to focus on supporting customers and making sure that any service needs are met. We expect our sales team to become technical experts who can do it all, from troubleshooting over the phone to making service trips and delivering parts.
Collectively, our goal as a company is to focus almost solely on service and support during the months of April and May. These eight weeks are a risky time of the year. It’s not about selling more systems or parts; it’s about helping each other be successful. If our customers are successful in meeting the needs of their customers, then we are successful.
Remember: Even though we are in the seed industry, it’s a relationship business. Doing little things such as cross training, group dinners and supporting our customers helps to earn and secure trust. Our mission is to help employees and customers succeed.