Competing with large multiple branch dealerships can be a challenge for some smaller independent companies like Moore Farm Services. But does having the freedom to choose specific franchises potentially enable it to compete with the big players? Simon Henley travels to Doncaster to find out.
Moore Farm Services opened its doors for business in 2010, when husband and wife team David and Liz Moore decided they wanted to bring their own brand of service to farmers and contractors in the South Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire area.
"We strive to provide our customers with the best sales, service and after-care support we can provide," confesses Liz Moore. "We are proud to currently represent Krone, Amazone and Deutz-Fahr, and we sell, service and maintain their products to the highest standard. Additionally, we are able to support our customers with the service and repair of other machines, when it is required.
"One of the many difficulties we face where selling tractors is concerned, is competing with the larger dealer chains in this region. Deutz-Fahr offers a comprehensive range of well-developed tractors, however as a smaller franchise, it is hard for us to compete with high-volume John Deere or CNH dealers.
"Subsequently, over the years we have established ourself primarily as a machinery dealer, specialising in the sale of farm machinery and equipment as opposed to becoming a high-volume tractor distributor."
From the roadside looking through the front gate, Moore Farms services premises does appear quite small. But appearances can be deceptive, as the sales figures for this company can reveal.
In 2018, Moore Farm Services established itself as the highest volume single branch Amazone dealer in the UK. During the same period, it achieved a ranking of ninth in the UK for volume sales with Krone equipment. That is impressive by anyone’s standard.
"David has sold quite a few Amazone Panterra self-propelled sprayers," reports Liz Moore. "He has also sold several Krone big-balers and Krone Big-X self-propelled forage harvesters. This kind of commitment to our customers means we are often required to work 18-hour days, seven-days a week, but that is what we signed on for. David and I are always contactable, and will always do our best to solve an issue at any time."
After completing a degree in engineering at Bishop Burton College and Harper Adams University, David Moore started his career working as a test and development engineer for McCormick, when AgriArgo UK was still producing tractors at the former Case-IH plant in Doncaster. Following the closure of the McCormick factory in 2008, David went to work for Cummins in Huddersfield, before eventually deciding to become self-employed and start his own business.
The David Moore mantra for selling any kind of equipment, is ’correct installation’. For him, the process of selling one of his customers a new sprayer or a new baler, is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to customer care. For Mr Moore, continued customer support is paramount to the successful management of the equipment he is selling.
"Farmers are investing huge amounts of money into modern equipment," says Mr Moore. "The first part of my job is to make sure they are buying exactly the type of machine they require. I will not sell something to one of my customers that I do not think they want, or more importantly they do not need.”
Mr Moore adds; "When people buy something from us, they are not only investing in a piece of machinery, they are investing into the dealership. It is our job to support our clients, and make sure we are available to answer questions or resolve a problem, whether it is over the phone or out on the farm.
"When somebody buys a sprayer or harvester from us, it seems only fair that I should spend a day or two with the farmer or the operator, to make sure they are fully cognoscente with the machine’s functions. Once a machine has been correctly installed, it is our job to make sure it continues to function effectively, not just for the duration of the warranty, but for the duration of its working life on that specific farm."
Holding equipment franchises for both Amazone and Krone, works extremely well for Moore Farm Services. According to Liz Moore, during the autumn and winter they are focussed on Amazone products, such as sprayers and fertiliser spreaders. With the approach of summer, it is the Krone mowers, balers, rakes and forage harvesters which consume the lion’s share of the Moore’s time.
However, when presented with the suggestion that as a smaller company, they have the luxury of picking and choosing franchises of their choice, Mrs Moore is inclined to disagree.
"We have worked extremely hard to establish ourselves with companies like Amazone, Krone and Deutz-Fahr. You have to believe in what you are selling, and we like having the freedom to represent not only what we sell, but also ourselves as part of the local farming community.”
Mrs Moore adds; "With everything we sell, no matter how big or small, we are building on the David Moore brand of customer service. You cannot always please everyone, but you can certainly work hard to try.
"Personally, I do not think I would like the pressure of belonging to a large multi-branch franchise. Meeting deadlines and sales targets while having to work with the hands of the big corporations in our pockets, somehow does not seem appealing."
Today, Moore Farm Services employs five people, including two technicians in the workshop and Kim who helps with the administration. With her husband frequently out in the field, Mrs Moore handles much of the day-to-day running of the company. In the evenings, when the dealership doors are closed, the couple can often be found working side-by-side in the workshop, if there is a job to finish or a new machine to PDI by the following day.
Having spent the past seven-years in the same premises, last year the Moores' decided to expand their business by moving to a new location just 100m up the road. The brand new premises, which is expected to be completed this month (March 2019), is about five-times larger than the company's existing building, featuring a larger service department with its own dedicated parts counter, a larger retail shop, customer meeting rooms and an accounting office.
"Increasingly, we are now being approached by larger farming enterprises, who seek our expertise," states Mr Moore. "The new premises will necessitate our ability to achieve new goals, and enable us to build on the reputation we have established as a company.
He concludes; "The new building will also give us the room we need to work on the larger equipment, and the capability of taking on new franchises which will further meet the needs of the farmers we are serving."