How Farmers Can Become Customer Service Wizards

July 20, 2017 09:08 AM
How Farmers Can Become Customer Service Wizards

Although many producers think their customers are consumers, the reality is that most farmers don’t get a check from people shopping at the grocery store. Instead, farmers’ customers include other operators to whom they provide custom services, landlords and others, says Mike Boehlje of Purdue University.

The best operators think strategically, and the No. 1 strategy they employ is to think critically about how to create value for their customers.

“Most of the legacy of farming, your grandfathers, your fathers, have a produce-and-peddle mentality,” Boehlje told attendees of the 2017 Tomorrow’s Top Producer conference. In the past, farms could simply be good at production and adopt an “if we build it, they will come” mentality. That approach is no longer enough. “Think like a business person, not a farmer,” Boehlje says.

One easy way to turn the corner is to approach your grain elevator and other customers with the question, “What can I do to create value for you?”

Boehlje shares how one producer agreed to provide on-demand delivery of 10,000 bu. of grain within 24 hours of a request from his local elevator. In turn, the elevator committed to giving the farmer 10 cents per bushel for all grain deliveries, even above the 10,000-bu. figure. The elevator viewed the premium as a way to contract inventory management to the farm operation.

“This farmer talked to his customer,” Boehlje says.

For complete coverage of the 2017 Tomorrow’s Top Producer conference, visit

Top Producer would like to thank the sponsors of the 2017 Tomorrow’s Top Producer conference.

Premier Sponsors: AgriGold, AgYield, Anuvia, Bayer, Case IH, Channel, CropZilla, Dow AgroSciences, Growmark, K-Coe Isom, Pioneer, PotashCorp, Top Third Ag Marketing, Verdesian.

Co-Sponsors: ADM, ESN Smart Nitrogen, AgroLiquid, Farm Credit Mid-America, Harvest Returns, Silveus Insurance Group,

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