You may be perfectly happy with the way your business handles grain.  You have your scale, a simple system to create a ticket and a printer to print that ticket.  Nice and easy.  You don’t want to complicate things by switching to a completely automated system that’s too complex, too sterile and unmanned.

From your perspective, an “upgrade” like that would downgrade your relationships with customers.  It would also be an expense you hadn’t planned for.  Why boil the ocean?

The answer is: you don’t have to boil the ocean.  Practical, incremental automation lets you ride a wave of efficiency without wiping out your customer relations or your profits.

Automate Redundant Processes

Most sites have processes that are redundant about 90 percent of the time.  It will be easy to identify those processes – they’re the ones your employees can pretty much do in their sleep.  But you know when processes become redundant, people can get bored with them, their engagement suffers and errors can creep in.

You can choose which processes you want to automate.  It’s smarter and more cost-effective to select what’s needed, knowing that each component you implement buoys your efficiency, accuracy and customer satisfaction.

Strategic Business Consultant Joellyn Sargent says the most profitable growth comes when you make changes in small increments.  She recommends constantly observing your business to identify tweaks that could make your business better.  “Improvements are out there, waiting to be discovered,” Sargent says. “They can quickly become competitive advantages, improving profitability and allowing you to reinvest for further growth.”

Automation = Stronger Customer Service

It may seem automation would be sterile, with very little back-and-forth with customers.  But automation preserves interaction with customers. Customer relationships are very important in the grain business.  So it’s understandable that managers would want to keep that essential point of contact.  It’s true that components such as the RFID reader capture important information.  The remaining info may be added through a quick conversation with the scale house.

Customer interaction isn’t just a matter of goodwill, though that is a big deal.  It also makes good business sense, by validating the accuracy of the load.  It allows your drivers to verify the farm they’re hauling for.  Communication with customers must be strong when details about co-product load-outs or split loads are shared.  As you know, that can sometimes be complicated, and your customers expect your crew to get it right the first time.  Having that point of contact is indispensable.  You can maintain it and use automation to make everyone’s encounters smooth sailing.

One more reason to keep up those customer relationships is to learn their valuable insights.  Sargent suggests, “Make small changes to incorporate customer feedback” that improve the way you do business.

You’re in Charge

The bottom line here is that automation is a tool to make your business run smoother and more efficiently.  It’s not some looming tidal wave that will roll over you, your employees and your customers, leaving behind an impersonal shell of a business.  You are the captain.  You decide which processes you want to improve and we help you navigate the complexities. 

In our next blog, we’ll tell you about the “discovery curve,” and how it helps you prepare for a conversation with a vendor about your specific business needs.