Dealer Spotlight: Mid Nebraska Feeds

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.”

10 Ways to Thank Your Customer

While simply saying, “Thank you” is an essential part of good customer service, words don’t always carry the same significance as actions. It is important to continually strive to show your gratitude to your customers in fun and memorable ways.

We decided to feature these 10 ways to show appreciation to your customer. Each idea for giving thanks must be relevant, noticeable and sincere. If you focus on these simple gestures, your show of gratitude will be a huge hit with your customers.

  1. Write a Note
    There is still nothing more powerful than a handwritten note. It’s surprising how rarely this proven way of showing gratitude is actually used. Your note should be specific and personal and will be sure to brighten your customer’s day.
  2. Start a Loyalty Program
    Invite your most loyal customers into a VIP rewards program. Customers love the red carpet treatment, which is why prime and VIP membership programs have become so popular. Your rewards program doesn’t have to be complex; it can be as simple as offering customers an annual discount on their anniversary.
  3. Send a Treat
    Cookies are a winning idea – liked by all and easy to share. But consider your audience: if your customer is more health conscious, a fruit bouquet might be a better fit.
  4. Show You Value Feedback
    Reach out to customers to tell them how you have implemented their suggestions. There is no better way to communicate with a customer than to show you were listening. Let the conversation also be an opportunity to gather more feedback. You want customers to feel they have an open line of communication to you at all times.
  5. Offer a Surprise Upgrade
    The element of surprise is a powerful thing. Thank customers with a free spontaneous upgrade. You can pick customers at random to receive a free tube of Vita Charge® Paste or Vitalize® Recovery Paste if they buy more than $XX. Not anything that is advertised, just a nice surprise to say thank you and a great way for customers to try new products.
  6. Honor an Achievement
    Make your customers feel like they are a part of a big family. Recognize special events in their lives by sending small gifts or handwritten notes. The event could be a major birthday, conclusion of a production sale, etc. The thoughtful timing of your gift communicates volumes and is a gesture that won’t soon be forgotten.
  7. Hold In-Store Events After Hours
    Give frequent customers that VIP feeling with an invitation-only after-hours event in your store. Provide drinks and snacks, and use that time to introduce new products or answer questions about products you already carry. For an extra special treat, consider including your favorite local singing talent to setup in the corner of the store and entertain your guests. Note: this event could be considered an Open House or Producer Meeting. Talk to your ASM about scheduling and help with preparations.
  8. Give Some Swag
    Customers love promo items, especially those that can be reused like coffee mugs, t-shirts and caps. If you don’t already have promo items with your store logo, BioZyme® apparel makes great customer gifts and can easily be order by visiting the Online Dealer Center at www.biozymedealer.com
  9. Spend Quality Time Together
    There is no need to break the bank with a lavish gift to thank a customer. Schedule a lunch at your customer’s office/farm/ranch or invite them out as a time for you to just sit and listen. Going out of your way to meet people and hear about what they do every day could be a critical learning experience for your business.
  10. Excel at Customer Service Daily
    Nothing says thank you for your business better than a friendly, informed service representative. Make sure your sales staff is informed on the products and as ready to help as you are personally when answering the phone or working on the floor.

Show customers your thankfulness today by acting on one (or more) of these ideas or by incorporating your own.

Article Curated from HelpScout.Net

Customer Service Strengthens Relationships and Your Bottom Line

We don’t have to tell you the importance of customer service. You already know how vital it is to the success of your business. But did you know it is crucial to your bottom line as well? Businesses spend a lot of time and effort trying to cut expenses and increase profits. However, a December 2014 article on
Taskle.com says that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%. Therefore, companies need to focus a lot more on improving customer satisfaction.

The best part of increasing your customer satisfaction levels is that customers keep coming back. These retained customers cost less than new customers. Why? Because you aren’t spending marketing dollars trying to get them in your stores – services you’re already providing are convincing them to come back.

Just what is that returning customer worth? According to an online article on Lireo.com:

  • Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase your profits up to 125%
  • Loyal customers are worth 10 times as much as their first purchase on average
  • Companies who make customer service a priority make 60% higher profits than their competitors

How to Improve Your Customers’ Experiences and Retain Them

  • Ask your customers for feedback. When you show that you care and that you’re willing to listen to your customers, they will appreciate it and want to give you their business. Really listen and try to implement their suggestions and
    feedback, and then show what changes you have made based on their suggestions.
  • Offer a good mix of products. Make sure you have the products that your customers use the most on-hand for the time of year and the animals’ nutritional development.
  • Keep your store easy to navigate. Keep your aisles clear and set up a good flow. Keep like or complimentary products together so your customers don’t have to go from store corner to store corner to get the two products they came for.
  • Train your employees to handle complaints better. Negative interactions spread to twice as many people as positive interactions. If an employee handles a complaint well, the chance of the dissatisfied customer spreading his or her discontentment decreases.

Customer service – it is something we strive to perfect each day, but now that you know it can help your profits, be sure to give a little extra attention to the customers. Your customers will surely notice, and your bank account will too.

Sources:
http://www.taskle.com/how-does-
customer-satisfaction-affect-sales/
https://www.lireo.com/how-customer-service-can-impact-your-business-infographic/#keytakeaways

Listen to Customers to Know Their Needs

Kari Schultz of Spring Canyon Feeds knows how important it is to listen to her customers as part of the keen service she provides. And she doesn’t let their words fall on deaf ears. She takes what she hears to BioZyme® to make sure her customers have what they need so they don’t go buying feed at one of her competitors.

“It’s nice because BioZyme does listen to us and our concerns,” Schultz says. “I try to bridge that gap between the company making the product and the producer using it because if we don’t have the right products, our customers will go elsewhere.”

Schultz recalls an instance where several of her customers requested a mineral tub with a different formulation, including higher levels of magnesium to prevent grass tetany during springtime grazing. Her goal is that the BioZyme R&D team will have this ready to go by next spring so her customers in Eastern Colorado will know that when they speak, Schultz and the BioZyme staff truly do listen.

It’s not just the challenges that Schultz’s customers share with her. She had one first-time customer tell her how pleased he was with Concept•Aid® after he had 100% conception rate on his two-year-old heifers, an affirmation that Schultz was sure to share with BioZyme and other cow-calf producers wondering about the product.

As an additional resource, Schultz has created a customer information card that she keeps handy for each of her customers that has important information such as herd size, breeding season, calving season, forage availability and other questions she might regularly ask to help customize a feeding program. She says the cards help her know important information about each customer and has allowed her to begin making customized feeding plans for her customers based on their individual needs and other available resources. She says the cards also help her with inventory control by keeping her in the know about her customer needs by time of year so she can have the right product on hand.

Although listening to her customers is just one side of the communication stream, Schultz says she has built trust with many customers because she too is a producer and does a lot of research on her own time.   

“Not all products work in certain circumstances, but we have experience and can show the customers first-hand how to make products work for them,” Schultz says. “Because we are producers and BioZyme backs the products, we have built trust with our customers.”

Schultz adds that those dealers who are not producers should take advantage of the opportunities to learn from and listen to their customers. She suggests digging deeper than a casual conversation – walk the bunkline with them, drive a pasture with them and ask them about their forages, and ask what your customer really wants and needs when it comes to a nutrition program.

A customer information card similar to the one Kari uses is now available for you. Visit the Online Dealer Center at www.biozymedealer.com and go to Marketing – Request Center – Marketing and Merchandise Requests to get yours today.

November 2016 – Letters from Lisa

Thanksgiving is all about thanks.

In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly, but not universally, traced to a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.” The age of this holiday tells us its relevance to all times and its purpose is extremely valuable in our present time.

At BioZyme®, our goal is to observe the purpose of Thanksgiving every day. When we think about the things we acknowledge with grateful hearts, we think of you and our working partnership with you. We appreciate each and every time you think of our brands, we appreciate your understanding when we don’t meet your expectations and we are humbled by your amazingness in your market. The last three years have been a phenomenal success for us–thanks to your efforts and commitment. And for that we are very thankful.

“As we express gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

At BioZyme, we try to live by this quote in our commitment to increase market share so your sales go up each year. We work to do this by:

  • Creating and offering research-proven products that do what they claim to do
  • Investing in consistent, relevant marketing
  • Providing on-time, frictionless delivery
  • Handling customer concerns quickly and compassionately

If we are not living by this quote, in your opinion, please call, text, email or communicate to us, and we will thankfully get to work.

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Make the Ask: Planning Producer Meetings

The crisp fall air is upon us; harvest in most parts of the country is in full swing, fall calving is under control, and there is a short break in stock shows. It is a great time for BioZyme® dealers to start planning and preparing for producer meetings.

Ask – Invite producers

First, as a dealer, you need to set a date, time and location for your meeting. Make sure it is on a day that doesn’t conflict with something else in the area that would diminish attendance, such as a sale or the state football playoffs that your local team is in for the first time in decades. Send out invitations so the producers get them a week or two in advance. And if possible, follow up that invitation with a phone call the day before the meeting.

“It is super important to call everybody you invited, even if you sent them a postcard,” says Dorothy Orts, North Dakota Area Sales Manager. “You won’t have a successful turnout if you don’t call and ask them to the meeting.”

Once you have a date set, be creative in picking a location away from your store. It makes them feel appreciated to see you meeting with them outside of the normal place they do business with you. Orts, and her counterpart in Oklahoma, John Jeffrey, agree that the meeting should be held at a restaurant or a small community building and in conjunction with a meal. Jeffrey says if the food is good, people will show up. And Orts has learned by experience to keep the room small for a more comfortable setting where everyone can hear. She says if the room is too big, the acoustics might suffer, and if producers can’t hear, they are not going to pay attention.

Ask – Encourage interaction

Orts likes to make the meetings interactive and asks questions of the producers to get them involved and relaxed. She then asks for any current customers to provide a testimonial about the BioZyme products, saying that most producers will share their passion at the spontaneous response. And she also makes sure everyone knows about the Amaferm® advantage.

Allow sufficient time for discussion after the meeting, as most speakers will stay to visit with producers. Both Orts and Jeffrey say what happens after the meeting is often just as important as what happens during. Jeffrey described a recent noon-meal meeting where just a handful of producers showed up. Jeffrey and the dealer sat down with them in a more conversational manner

and people stayed for nearly three hours to learn about the products and share ideas.

Ask – Collaborate with others

It is a great idea to plan a meeting with other groups or businesses with similar goals. Jeffrey says he has piggy-backed with local cattlemen groups or pharmaceutical companies to share costs. When working with a drug company, he says they showed research that mineral usage increases the effectiveness of vaccinations – sharing both messages at once. And with the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), it is timely to coordinate meetings with pharmaceutical companies.

Ask – Follow up

“You just have to ask,” Jeffery says. “You can’t sell something to people if you don’t ask them to buy it.” Jeffrey says when coordinating meetings with dealers, he likes to run a short special for those in attendance, which also encourages the producers to visit the store or place an order within the first week after the meeting.

Orts likes to send each meeting attendee home with a sample of Vita Charge® Liquid Boost® because it will likely save one life and help gain customers. Both area sales managers say to follow up and call those who attended.

“No two meetings are ever the same,” Jeffrey says. “Just be sure to ask for the sale. You never know if you will get a new customer that day or two weeks from now.”

Added Value Should Mean Added Profitablity

Having multiple product lines may allow a growing business to diversify risk and capitalize on its established reputation. Multiple product lines can also strengthen competition in its industry, while at the same time enhancing the company’s checkbook.

Certainly after reading that statement, everyone is interested in expanding their products or product line(s). However, while it may be beneficial to expand a product line or bring in a new product within a line, those benefits do not come without considerable work before the sales start rolling in.  Please note, any one of these 17 steps could cause the ones before it to be reevaluated making the process at times overwhelming.

  1. First, get an idea of what to expand.
  2. Determine the specific needs of customers in that market segment.
  3. Identify the product features that would be most attractive to them.
  4. Assess the market size and the competition.
  5. Create/formulate the product based on science and market research results.
  6. Get team buy-in.
  7. Figure out the best distribution channels to achieve the highest market penetration.
  8. Determine the price to make sure it will be competitive and profitable. (note: many times this step forces you to go back to step 5 or before)
  9. Test the product to determine its effectiveness.
  10. Create a unique value proposition.
  11. Decide how you’ll position the product in the market segment you’ve identified using that proposition.
  12. Make sure that doesn’t conflict with any other products, product lines or brands in your portfolio.
  13. Create the name and “look” to support the positioning.
  14. Create the marketing materials.
  15. Plan the initial launch.
  16. Strategize the actual marketing plan to support it after its launch
  17. Execute, execute, execute and PRAY. Pray the product is positioned and priced correctly, works correctly and sells in the time you predicted.

Of course you are not interested in doing this entire list, so how can making the decision of adding a new product or product line be made in a more simplistic approach? Consider the following:

1. Evaluate the product itself

  • Has the product been thoroughly tested?
  • Did the product deliver consistent results?

2. Identify and evaluate the target market

  • What are the ideal customer’s characteristics?
  • Is there a market for the product?
  • Is there enough of a market to support the product?
  • Does the market available to you have a place for the product?

3. Evaluate the competition

  • Who are the top market competitors?
  • How are their products the same or different?
  • What are their marketing techniques?

4. Consider the product from your customers’ viewpoint

  • What service or product do they choose currently?
  • What are the key differences that would compel customers to select your product over another company’s?

5. Evaluate launch readiness

  • If the launch is successful (and let’s face it – the reason you’re launching a new product is because you want it to be successful) can your company facilitate the increased demand?
  • Do you have resources for handling customer education, inquiries and needs?

In the end, if you do your homework and move forward with an analytical eye, your product or line extension will increase sales, help you reach new markets and build market share overall for your growing business. Go be a “rocket” star!

Tools to Target the Right Customers

Every successful partnership requires each partner to give 100% effort. That includes the new exclusive partnership that Superior Livestock and BioZyme® have entered to market VitaFerm® Raised and Gain Smart calves through Superior.

The newly formed alliance targeted to stocker and feeding operations requires that either VitaFerm or Gain Smart be fed 45 days prior to marketing calves on Superior AND through delivery of those calves. Since nutrition is a key factor to herd health, gain and stress relief, this is win-win for all partners in the endeavor – the cattle feeder, BioZyme and Superior.

“This is a big win for our dealers when it comes to marketing the new Gain Smart product,” says Alan Lee, BioZyme Director of Sales. “But it is a more important win for the producers, who should see the value of feeding our product twice. First, they will see increased gain and faster growing calves, and again when they market their calves through Superior, they should see the premiums as being part of this new value-added program.”

Promoting the value of a nutrition program and the Amaferm® advantage, is already a great marketing tool, especially when customers see the financial benefits penciled out. Your customers need to sell those calves, and if they aren’t already Superior customers, the value-added partnership is another great arsenal to add to your marketing plan. Superior is the leader in marketing cattle, and chances are your bigger producers already use Superior.   

One way that Lee suggests dealers can discover larger producers in their sales area is to watch the Superior Livestock sales or read their catalog online, to see who already sells their cattle via Superior.  Another benefit of this simple research might be discovering a new customer who doesn’t feed BioZyme products but sells on Superior.

“Every dealer I’ve suggested this to who embraced this, has picked up at least one new, big customer in the last two weeks,” Lee says. And he adds, if an alliance or group of producers is selling cattle, the BioZyme dealer can potentially add several more customers.

Reaching out to your area Superior Livestock rep is another way to build a customer base. Superior has nearly 400 representatives across the United States who work on commission of selling actual load lots of cattle. They are another great source when promoting the BioZyme programs. Superior reps and their telephone numbers can be found online at www.superiorlivestock.com.

“Through a collaborative effort between the BioZyme dealers and Superior reps, we want this to be a long-term partnership,” says Jason Barber, manager of Superior’s purebred division. “We want the dealers and sales staff to reach out to reps and consignors to network while educating the consignors about the importance of a great mineral program.”

Lee says the dealers need to be proactive in approaching larger customers, and the new Gain Smart program provides dealers with the great information to approach larger feeders and stockers with. “Gain Smart provides greater performance, increasing gains from one-quarter to one-third of a pound per day. So, not only will they see added gains, they will receive premiums when selling through this value-added program.”

October 2016 – Letters from Lisa

Just like a trapeze artist must take a risk when letting go of one swinging bar to catch the next, growing your business year after year involves risk. This month I want to focus on the trust involved in taking those risks – much like that trapeze artist trusts that the next bar will appear just as he lets go of the one he is already clinging to in mid-air. Some risks are easy to execute but take a decent sized bank account while others are hard to execute but don’t take much money at all. I am going to rattle off a list of these options, and then you can decide which one to choose so you don’t need the net.

1. Carve out a new corner of your market
Expanding into new markets provides the advantage of building a larger customer base.

2. Partner with other businesses who are growing in your market
By forming strategic partnerships with other growing businesses that offer complementary products and services, you can cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship that will help both of your businesses grow.

3. Diversify your product offerings
A diversification strategy opens up new possibilities. You can diversify your product offering or your target markets. Think about the things that go along with the items you sell: boots, apparel, shavings and nutrition services for example.

4. Leverage a strong position with your existing core customers
The ability to leverage your existing customer base should be core to better engagement with new prospects and how you funnel them through the sales process more quickly. Don’t take them for granted—your existing customer base can be the key to advancing both marketing and sales activities that lead to significant growth.

5. Acquire or merge with other businesses in your market
Perhaps the most aggressive growth strategy is to buy a company that makes products related to yours. We’ve seen that a lot lately with tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon that continue to acquire smaller businesses. If you cannot acquire another business perhaps you can arrange to merge with it.

Choosing the best option for your business is hard work that involves risk. It is no different than the trapeze artists high above the crowd gracefully letting go of their swinging bar flying through the air being caught and then letting go again.

Author Henri Nouwen once had the opportunity to travel with the Flying Rodleighs, a troupe of trapeze artists. Their conversation inevitably turned to flying and how they could possibly do what they did. Nouwen summarizes risk: ͞

A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust that his catcher will be there for him.

So outstretch your arms; let go, and trust the option you select to grow your business.

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Other Ways to Offset “It’s Too Expensive”

Learning is a complicated concept as everyone is unique in their own way, and learns in their own way as well. It is easy to give up when customers don’t react positively to the way you’ve positioned a product. You understand it… why shouldn’t they?

Unfortunately, we have to understand that all customers are different and different positioning tactics appeal to some more than others. Here are a few quick tips on conquering the “It’s too expensive” objection we often hear:

Divide into Daily Prices
For just 15 cents per head, per day, you can feed your cow the mineral program that will result in performance that pays.

Compare the Price to Something Tangible
Vita Charge® Paste gets livestock back on feed for less than the price of a Starbucks® coffee.

Increase the Perception of Value within the Product
Dyson has claimed 27% market share in the US vacuum cleaner space. They detail everything behind their products:

  • 5 years of prototyping
  • 5,127 prototypes
  • 1,000 Dyson engineers and scientists in Britain, Singapore and Malaysia
  • Engineers in disciplines like Fluid Dynamics, Aerodynamics, Turbo Machinery and Acoustics

Let’s do the same with BioZyme® mineral…

  • 60+ years of developing products
  • 160 published university research studies to prove how the products work
  • 350 PhD’s study the impact of Amaferm®
  • 12,000 cows each year participating in field trials for real-world proof

Introduce a Calculator

BioZyme has developed several calculators to help pencil out the value of the VitaFerm® mineral products. Take the time to go through these calculators with your customers. These calculators can be found at:
http://vitaferm.com/cost-calculators/.

Offers Stats that Prove Others Believe in the Value

In 2011, 216,714 beef cattle consumed VitaFerm every day -or- 5,418 producers believed in its value

In 2015, 538,379 beef cattle consumed VitaFerm every day, so today the brand is trusted by over 13,459 producers and counting!