NEW PROGRAM LAUNCHED NORTH AMERICA-WIDE
THERE IS OFFICIALLY more than one brand offering higher quality used farm equipment in 2015. Whatever their preference in paint colour, farmers are promised more for their dollars on future new-to-you purchases.
AGCO began to pilot a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program with 16 dealers in 2013. Early this year, the company will unveil it for comprehensive North American coverage. Select models of Challenger® and Massey Ferguson® high horsepower tractors, combines, self-propelled windrowers, and large square balers will qualify for the program in addition to some Fendt® high horsepower tractors, Gleaner® combine, Hesston® large square baler, and RoGator® sprayer models. All certified equipment will come with at least one year of comprehensive extended-service coverage. Tractors and windrowers will each be inspected at more than 100 points, large square balers subjected to at least 160 points of inspection, over 200 points are listed for combines, and as many as 400 or more checks will be noted on spray equipment. Once inspected, each piece of equipment is reconditioned by the certifying technician.
At Ohio Ag Equipment in Cleveland, Ohio, one of the 16 dealerships that participated in the pilot program, the technician’s last job is to actually install a small plaque of certification. “Our technician actually signs it and writes the date that the certified process was completed,” sales manager Michael Mampieri says. “It just puts more accountability into that product and it’s a nice personal touch we wanted to tie into our CPO program.”
DESIGNING A PROGRAM
Mampieri’s dealership offers customers several different brands to choose from and, although most of the tractors, combines, and spray application equipment they sell are AGCO brands, working with other manufacturers has already given them four years of experience in administering a pre- owned certification program. He believes that was a significant factor in the quality of feedback they were able to provide to AGCO during the piloting process. Mampieri says that as most people would expect, the original program the company started with was not perfect.
“It’s been a great learning opportunity,” he says. “We made mistakes and the most important thing is we’ve learned from it, so we don’t repeat those mistakes.”
For example, he explains the original program assessed three-point hitches and valve functioning solely on the basis of whether or not they were operational. But customers buying the equipment pointed out that they would prefer to know valves had been pressure tested, to get a better sense of how much the pumps had been worn. At that level of detail, it took time to assess and modify the whole certification process but Mampieri feels fortunate that AGCO was quick to make adjustments in response to their feedback.
“I really respect how AGCO went about this,” he says. “It may appear we don’t have a headstart but before putting this out to mass market, they eliminated a lot of bugs.”
Mampieri says his team has a lot of confidence in the program as a result, since they feel like they developed the program as much as AGCO did. At the corporate level, the company says it also believes improvements made during the pilot stage of the rollout will provide farmers with a lot more peace of mind and the best value for their used-equipment purchases.
“Farmers are savvy businesspeople, and particularly in a down market, they are squeezed to maximize their net profit,” says Eric Lescourret, AGCO director of Commercial Strategic Initiatives. “Key areas of focus for farmers are capital expense and the purchase or lease of more fuel-efficient and productive equipment.”
One thing that comes across particularly clear in talking to dealers about certification programs like these is the importance of greater harmonization between the manufacturing brand and their retailers. Executives making decisions at head office see the new program as a way of enhancing the quality and decreasing the risk in used equipment purchases. Similarly, dealers report that it is an opportunity for them to deliver consistency and dependability to the customer.
Jonathon Lalonde of Dan R Equipment Company in Winchester, ON believes that when manufacturers and retailers can get together to develop a program like this, that is very good news for their customers.
“Everyone’s looking for better value when they buy used equipment, they don’t want the shiny new toy on the block, they want something that’s reliable,” Lalonde says. “It shows a certain level of solidarity between the dealer and the company that we’re both standing behind our products.”
Selling Gleaner combines, Massey tractors and combines, Challenger tractors, Fendt tractors, and Hesston haymaking equipment throughout most of Eastern Ontario, Lalonde says there is nothing worse than not being able to provide solutions to your customer’s equipment problems. That’s why he is happy AGCO’s program is not limited to tractors and combines. He says that although there is always lag time between the release of a new program and implementation, he would really like to have some Certified Pre-Owned balers to offer as soon as this year. Going out on sales calls armed with new offerings like this will only help his team.
“Price tags keep going up and farmers are looking for more and more justification for that price tag,” he says. “Things like these extended warranties and preventative maintenance programs, they are helping us do that.”
Lalonde says that in recent years his dealership has put a huge emphasis on service and parts department performance, finding that is really what is selling equipment now. People want to interact with service technicians they trust and they need to be able to get quick answers to questions. With the ever increasing options available in modern agriculture machinery, the need for good technical support — whether purchased new or used — will only continue to grow. •