There is probably not a better example of customer service than at the little ole’ feed store in Grand Island, Nebraska.
It’s a place called Mid Nebraska Feeds that is managed by Amy Jo Kent. Amy Jo has been in this job for more than five years but has worked to enhance the concept of customer service for decades.
Since 2011, her day has been to open the feed store doors, smile, assist, call, text, order, lift, load and smile some more until the doors are locked at closing time. Amy Jo manages the entire business, ranging from cleaning the store to bookkeeping and accounting and everything else in between. And she keeps busy with customer service tasks and planning even when she’s at home.
Each day, Mid Nebraska Feeds has approximately 30 to 40 people in and out of its doors. This kind of traffic is attributed to Amy Jo’s keen ability to take care of her customers, no matter what.
“As manager, I do whatever it takes to service customers from farm deliveries, ordering special products or staying after hours for a customer pickup,” she says. “That’s what we’re known for. We bend over backwards to please people and do whatever it takes, over and above the call of duty.”
Mid Nebraska Feeds customers span a 150-mile radius and because of the distance, many need to meet to pick up product after store hours. This has never been a problem for Amy Jo. She has two full-time employees and people in the field who also share her belief in customer service and team work.
The store is also the main feed and supply source for Fonner Park and the Nebraska State Fairgrounds. When an event takes place at these Grand Island facilities, the store is called to make deliveries of feed, bedding and supplies for horse, cattle and goat shows, as well as the county and state fair events.
Amy Jo and her employees also take care of racetrack patrons by making daily deliveries to their tack rooms at no additional charge. “It’s there when they come back for evening chores,” Amy Jo says. “Whether it’s 10 or 120 bags we’ll handle anything they need with fast customer service.”
Amy Jo relies on her computer, smart phone and tablet to keep track of orders, event schedules and employees. She is constantly on her cell phone because she doesn’t want to miss a call from a customer who needs feed. If they can’t get ahold of her, they might go to another source, and she says that could throw their animals off feed by changing their diet.
“If someone needs a product they know to call me, and I’ll meet them at the store,” she says. “I have many customers I’ve never even met. They email, call or text me what they need, and I ship it to them. Some of my more long-distance customers call or text me with a group order, and I drop ship it to a central location and they go pick up their part. It saves each of them time by not having to drive long distances to the store to pick up feed and supplies.”
Amy Jo is not only a feed store manager but also consults on issues like hoof rot, scours and pink eye. She says she’ll drop everything to research products and make the right recommendations, even if she doesn’t make a sale. Amy Jo says her customers know they can count on her the next time they have questions.
“I love my customers and there’s a lot of smiles and laughter when they walk in the door,” she says. “I take a personal interest in all my customers and their animals. I recommend a feeding program for each animals’ needs whether they are domestic, farm or commercial. Some pets may be elderly, obese or have special dietary needs. I can recommend products that give them a better quality of life while still being cost effective for the owners.”
Amy Jo prides herself on knowing her customers by name and taking an interest in their lives. She attends their 4-H and FFA livestock shows and spends time walking around visiting with each customer to see the animals she helped feed. She celebrates with them when they win that ribbon or trophy and supports them any way she can.
Because Amy Jo’s mentality is all about the customer, she does ask for and receive feedback from them. She keeps her prices intentionally lower so they won’t go to the big box store for feed and she price matches her local competitors to keep her customers happy. Amy Jo says there may be moments she can’t please the customer or that she gets taken advantage of, but it’s all part of the feed store business.
“Running a successful business isn’t always about meeting a volume or monetary goal,” she says. “It’s all about the customers. They are the life-blood of this and every other business. Most of my customers are as loyal to me as I am to them. I’ve worked hard to earn that loyalty, and I appreciate each and every one of them.”