In part three of our five-part series, we examine how The agre¯ Solution keeps retailers on top of inventory and orders when workloads pick up in the spring.
The right tools at the right time can be the difference between a stressful busy season and a successful, smooth one.
Anita Marghella, business development coordinator at Tronia Systems, says their financial management system, The agrē Solution, allows retailers to manage their inventory, track customer orders and anticipate customer needs in the busy season.
“With the primary system, all customer sales are recorded, including blends and pickup dates, and agrē is able to track that information. It’s very easy for the system to pull together information for each grower,” she says.
“Using the agronomy module add-on also allows retailers to tag which fields or crop a particular product might have gone to in the previous growing season. From a reporting perspective, if that information has been collected, the retailer or grower can see what chemicals, fertilizers and seeds were purchased and where they went at any point in time.”
Blake Bergen, the director of corporate services at Blair’s Family of Companies, says they’ve been using The agrē Solution for a number of years, and started using the system’s agronomy module last fall. Through agrē, they’re able to tell what products their customers ordered last year and can help them plan accordingly for this growing season.
“It’s all just instantly available at our fingertips with blends, rates and dates that it was hauled out. So, we can track their fertilizer use very closely,” he says.
If we run short on a certain chemical or product, I can go on a computer and within seconds, I can look at all of our other locations and see if they have any. Blake Bergen
Location, Location, Location
Managing multiple locations can present its own challenges, especially when it’s important for retailers to have current and correct inventory information throughout their company in the spring.
“Our system is in real-time, so the moment a transaction or activity takes place, the inventory is updated,” says Marghella. “It’s really important for our customers with multiple locations to know what their inventory positioning is at each of the sites. Not only from a balance perspective, but also with regards to, ‘What have I committed to my customers? What do I have on order?’ At any given time, you can make those really important and integral decisions.”
For Bergen, that particular feature of agrē is perfect for staying in touch with the seven other Blair’s locations scattered across Saskatchewan. It gives him a real-time view of their whole company, which he says is very useful when fertilizer or crop input inventory is getting tight.
“As soon as the load slip is done, it makes that adjustment. If we run short on a certain chemical or product, I can go on a computer and within seconds, I can look at all of our other locations and see if they have any. Then, I can arrange to have the farmer go there or arrange for that product to be brought to those farmers,” he explains.
It also comes in handy when using the system’s blending module, which Bergen describes as their “bread and butter.” The agrē Solution allows them to set up different default blends at their locations, and also handles all of their liquid and dry blending.
All the information provided by the software is available to retailers any time of day and keeps them connected to their customers – even when they’re not in the office.
“Most people in the ag industry know that you don’t punch out at the end of the day, so the fact that the system includes an online web portal is fantastic,” says Bergen. “If you get a call from a farmer and he’s kind of panicking because he lost his sheets, it’s 9:30 at night and you’re no longer at the office, you can access it on your phone or computer at home – anywhere. It’s just a quick little log in and you’re able to get the information and get him going again. I know our customers really appreciate that and the fact that you’re able to help them out just about any time.”
Most people in the ag industry know that you don’t punch out at the end of the day, so the fact that the system includes an online web portal is fantastic. Blake Bergen
Looking Ahead to 2018
Despite getting little rest during the busy season, Bergen says he’s already looking forward to next year. Since Blair’s only added the agronomy module last fall, they need this season to collect the data to use next spring.
That data will provide a very detailed look at customers’ fields, which will have been “tagged” with records of the fertilizer blends, seeding rates and chemicals used.
“It’s a risk management tool and it’ll help our customers keep track of their own farms better; and sometimes they don’t do it quite as well as they think they do,” explains Bergen. “So, in the heat of the battle, we’re able to help them and keep all their information for them. Then, we can guide them or be that second person they can call if they can’t remember exactly what they did – it’ll be a great help to our customers.
“The agronomy module will give us a very in-depth field history in terms of chemical usage, sprays, seeding intentions and acres. Next year, we’ll have that information available to us during the spring season, which will be fantastic.”
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