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Protect Your Bottom-Line During Market Disruptions: Part 1

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Protecting Your Bottom-Line

Learn how technology can help prioritize these key areas and streamline your operation.

This is the first part in our blog series that was part of a webinar that streamed on June 23, 2020. You can view the entire webinar here.

 

No industry is without its challenges, especially the ag industry. Challenges such as market volatility, new tools, policy impacts, and faster transactions create whirlwinds of uncertainty that make it tough for any business to find their footing and push forward. At the time of this blog, we’re still navigating one of the greatest challenges in 2020 – a pandemic that has immensely disrupted how businesses transact with customers and partners. What we’re learning from these challenges is that organizations that prioritize key business practices can help pivot how they respond to these challenges, putting them back on the path to success sooner than competitors. The time to pivot, however, is quickly passing because the ag industry doesn’t stop. So where do you start?

In this blog series, you’ll learn what to consider prioritizing at your ag business to start addressing the challenges of today while setting a foundation for growth in the future. The first thing to think about is saving time through business-to-customer interactions.

 

Improving Business-to-Customer Interactions

To deal with market disruptions, everyone knows how important it is to protect your customer base and your bottom line. It’s a tough challenge that many ag businesses face on a regular basis, but it makes for an ideal opportunity to improve efficiency while supporting

customer needs. This is a good place to start considering when you’re trying to streamline your business.

Reducing the Cost of Administrative Tasks

 

Answering questions and digging up information can take up a significant amount of time of your day. For example, a 5-minute phone call might uncover an entire to-do list chocked full of tasks that includes manually looking up transactions or statements in different programs, drafting a contract, or fixing an error. By the end of the day, you probably realized that you spent about 2 hours helping a single customer when some of your valuable time could have been put to good use on other projects or recruiting new customers.

To reduce the time spent on these administrative tasks, business-savvy agribusiness leaders turn toward digital tools that work with their systems to accomplish more tasks in a single space. Many organizations use tools that allow employees to check previous transactions, manage cash bids, and notify customers all in one single platform. For example, the Bushel Admin tool can integrate into your different systems to display that key information in one place. It also allows you to send notifications out to growers. Additionally, it can send out digital contracts for signature, which allows you to stay back to help other customers. This helps save time from having to look for information as well as helps provide faster customer service than before. It’s a win-win scenario for the organization and customers.

 

Make Important Information Accessible to Yourself and Customers

Having information readily available to your customers can also help save you time on administrative tasks and build more transparency with your agribusiness. Generally, producers are more self-serving than ever before thanks to technology. At any moment, they can access real-time news, market reports, forecasts, and in some cases, even rent equipment without leaving the cab. Providing that same level of access to information that you already have within your system can significantly reduce the need for them to call about things that used to trigger a to-do list of administrative tasks. For example, producers can see contract information within the Bushel-Powered app, allowing them to see what they already shipped and the status of their transaction. This makes it more likely that if there is a conversation in the future it’ll be more about how your agribusiness can better serve them and earn their trust.

Be Proactive On Updating Customers

Keeping your customers in the loop on market and company updates is another opportunity to improve customer interactions and 

 

help save you time. As we all know, so many things can change in a moment’s notice. Markets can rally. Equipment can go down. Bad weather can impact how customers deliver to you. Being proactive and letting customers know about these changes sooner rather than later goes a long way to help manage expectations and reduce

the amount of questions asked later. 

Of course there are many ways to reach out to customers, including email, phone calls and text-messages, but many of these also have their drawbacks. You might even be thinking about how some of your customers respond better to one way as opposed to another. Emails can get buried in one customer’s inbox.

Phone calls can be missed for another customer. Or some customers just won’t respond to text messages. That’s when having another channel can become handy to reach more people, making it more likely they can see and act on the information you share. For example, agribusinesses can send push notifications via the Bushel Admin tool to Bushel-powered apps to let customers know about an update, such as market changes, unsigned contracts needing signatures, or even planned downtime for maintenance. This means that customers will see this alert right on their smartphones, as opposed to having to dig for it in their email or skipping the text message or call because they’re busy at the moment.  They can also send these notifications to specific users, so that only impacted customers receive relevant information. 

These are three areas where you can start prioritizing at your organization. The next section will be about protecting your bottom line by improving how customers transact with your business.