In what seems like an increasing trend, dealer days provide the chance to talk to manufacturers in a relaxed environment.
Alex Heath went to see what Ripon Farm Services had to offer...
Dealer-initiated events seem to be gaining traction, with increasing numbers of such events occurring yearly.
For the past 15 years Ripon Farm Services (RFS) has hosted an event allowing interaction between its customers and suppliers, 10 of which have seen the event held at the Yorkshire Event Centre, Harrogate.
RFS, based in North Yorkshire, is one of the country’s largest John Deere dealers, occupying nine depots, employing 190 people and generating a turnover of more than £70 million.
Nearly 50 manufacturers supplying RFS attended the twoday event, ranging from sundries and parts, to machinery and technical services. The company is a major dealer for a number of machinery brands, including John Deere, Kramer, Kuhn, Bailey and Bunning, all of which were showing their support at the event.
RFS says about 2,000 visitors per day come through the gates of the event – a mix of existing customers and those looking to try another brand the company has to offer.
Julie Swales from the company’s marketing department, and Danny Robinson, sales executive at the Ripon branch, say the event is a friendly, non-pressurised environment for farmers to discuss their farm’s requirements with multiple brands.
They also say, because the company has a number of smaller dealership yards, often customers do not get to see the full range of machines on offer, whereas at the show, the full compliment of what is available is there to view.
Unlike national shows attended by manufacturers, the pair say they have seen an uplift in the number of sales and demonstrations requested as a result of putting on the show, rather than relying on manufacturers directing customers the company’s way.
Using the show as the foundations to build a relationship is important to the company says Mr Robinson.
“Farmers can see the commitment RFS has to its customers and the support from manufacturers is also tangible to the customers,” he says.
Having the show at the start of the year allows customers to focus on their machinery and technical needs for the year ahead, says Mr Robinson. From speaking to customers at the event, the pair say the general outlook for the rest of the year is positive, with farms actively looking at investing in the latest technology to make their operations more efficient.
Alongside increasing productivity, they say farmers are also looking at cutting costs, so the event plays host to a wide range of second-hand machinery also.
Some 130 machines were on display, including tractors, loaders, combines, foragers and all manner of trailers and cultivation equipment.
Mr Robinson says: “While new machines may be competitively priced and offer the benefits of warranty and back-up, the secondhand market remains resilient, as farms look for replacement alternatives, or extra capacity.”
Aside from manufacturers, service providers were also present for a chat and to give advice, including Soyl, KW Feeds and NFU. Many of the companies provide RFS and many of its customers with insurance, feed, technical knowledge and precision farming software.
Overall, the company feels having a dedicated, standalone event has a stronger appeal than open days, as its centralised location in relation to dealerships means a larger offering can be seen, as well as showing appreciation for their custom over the year.
JD’s Territory manager for the RFS area, Adrian Street, says the event complements the national shows the manufacturer attends.
He says: “While the national shows are a showcase for the whole product portfolio and often the largest machines in the ranges, RFS can tailor what is on display to the customers and area.”
Visitors got to see one of the first narrow body 8600i forage harvesters in the country, as well as a W440PTC combine and a fully refurbished Model B tractor.
IAN Moverly, Kramer’s market development manager for Scotland and northern England, says the event provides customers access to the company’s full lineup of machines, situated both inside on the firm’s stand and greeting visitors at the entrance to the show.
Models ranged from the KT276 through to the KT559.
He says the show is useful from a manufacturers’ perspective, as the dealers bring the customer to the product, enabling decent conversations about the wants and needs the farm has for a telehandler.
Since taking on the Kramer dealership in July 2017, RFS has sold 130 loaders (at the time of the show).
FEEDING and bedding product specialist at Kuhn, Blair Allan, says the show is a good opportunity for farmers to speak to them with ideas fresh in their minds.
He says: “Because of the time of the event, many farmers will have been using machinery earlier that morning to feed and bed cattle and sheep, so know exactly what they are looking for in a replacement machine.
“Likewise with tillage and seeding equipment, only recently have autumn operations ceased, while spring ones are just around the corner, so it is an ideal time for customers to purchase or demo new machines.”
IAN McIntosh, sales executive at Portek, famous for its gas-powered bird scarers, says the show is the ideal opportunity for the company to engage with farmers and let them know about all the products the company makes.
Showcasing its new range for 2019, he says customers at the show were surprised by the company’s wide-ranging portfolio of products, which they would not normally get to see in dealer’s showrooms. Pride of place was the company’s new Charger log splitter (pictured), which uses a 1.5 kW motor to power two flywheels, which generate 8.5 tonnes of splitting pressure.
The product range now extends to handheld petrol post knockers, strimmers and landscape equipment, which are for sale through the dealer.