INNOVATION FROM JOHN DEERE: FRONTIER BRINGS ONE-STOP SHOPPING TO FARM EQUIPMENT
by Tyler Kelley, Osborn & Barr Communications
In today's fast-paced world, convenience is king. Today's busy consumers demand being able to rent movies at fast-food restaurants, buy their groceries at super-retail centers and check out the latest news on their cell phones.
John Deere has brought this same mentality of one-stop shopping to the farm equipment world with Frontier Equipment.
"Time is the one thing that no one has enough of whether it's the customer, dealer or end user," says Michael Horrell, Mktg Mgr for Frontier. "The Frontier line saves everyone time, from John Deere dealers to the customer using the products."
Frontier is a line of implements and attachments, sold exclusively by John Deere dealerships. Frontier currently works with alliance partners who manufacture the broad range of products to the company's specifications. This ensures the implements meet the company's standards for performance, reliability, and compatibility with John Deere equipment.
"Basically, we're looking at the customer's changing demands," says Dave Gilmore, Mgr of Frontier. "Dealers and customers are looking for solutions. If we can provide our customers with tractors, loader attachments, and implements — all from the same source — we can sell the total package. That's what Frontier allows us to do."
The John Deere brand is unique in that, it appeals to a wide customer demographic. That's great branding, but also a lot of responsibility to deliver product lines to many different sets of customers, while meeting the expectations of quality that are associated with John Deere.
Many John Deere customers are large property owners who may or may not be generating revenue from an agricultural enterprise. Some just want to own some land for recreation, but need small utility tractors to maintain their land. They also need implements and tools, much of which John Deere doesn't manufacture, but that's where Frontier comes in.
The Frontier brand allows for everyone to win, not only customers, but also manufacturers and dealers. The manufacturers win, because their alliance with Frontier gives access to John Deere's distribution system. Many manufacturers are strong regionally, but Frontier allows them access to a distribution channel that stretches across the United States and Canada.
Prior to the introduction of the Frontier line, because John Deere did not offer many of these products, John Deere dealers had to fill the gaps in their product offerings by working with other equipment manufacturers. That required separate contract negotiations, policies, warranties, pricing, service and employee training for what could be considered "niche" products. All required the time and attention of the John Deere dealer.
With the development of the Frontier business, John Deere dealers can now offer these commodity-type, price sensitive products to their customers without the complexity and cost of additional short lines. The Frontier business unit now allows the John Deere company to make these product offerings — and to do so packaged in the legendary John Deere color.
"Frontier is strategically integrated into the John Deere marketing plan, says Horrell. "All employees that manage the Frontier line are John Deere employees. We have suppliers that manufacture the products and then have access to the John Deere distribution system."
MAKING LIFE EASIER FOR DEALERS
John Deere dealers also see the advantages of the Frontier business model. The wide array of products offers dealers the opportunity to present their customers with a variety of solutions to the challenges they face.
"Being able to carry the Frontier line allows us to have more equipment on hand for the customer to see and to help package things like tractors and blades or posthole diggers together," says Scott Brees, Site Mgr for Sydenstricker Implement in Rocheport, MO. "The Frontier line is a separate brand but painted John Deere green with gray trim, so the implements look good and fit in with John Deere very well. The customers like the complete package."
In addition to increased sales and customer preference, carrying Frontier products can make the dealer's life easier. Brees, who has carried Frontier products since the brand was launched in 2001, says it allows him to get quality short-line equipment all from the same source, which makes billing and ordering easier.
"Over the course of five years we have started a business from scratch, and dealer acceptance has been positive," says Gilmore. "The number of dealers marketing our products keeps increasing and over 75 percent of eligible dealers are selling Frontier implements and attachments."
SALES AND SUPPORT
The established John Deere field sales staff handles the Frontier line, as well as the company's tractor, combine, planting, tillage, spraying, and other products. In addition, dealers and customers are encouraged to contact the Frontier call-in center or its Internet site which are administered from the John Deere Marketing Center in Lenexa, KS.
Frontier has its own marketing staff that is dedicated to the business unit. They are involved in product selection, contracts with their manufacturer-partners, pricing, product availability and other important administrative matters.
After receiving an order for a piece of Frontier equipment, the product either ships directly from the manufacturer-partner to the John Deere dealer or ships from the Frontier distribution center to the John Deere dealer.
Customers can also finance their purchases of Frontier Equipment through John Deere Credit, further strengthening the one-stop shopping concept and improving the customer's retail experience.
The John Deere communications group is responsible for overseeing all Frontier equipment advertising and public relations. There is a writing/designing team that is dedicated to the line to develop product brochures, service manuals, etc.
Although the agricultural market is important to Frontier, the largest market potential is the "rural lifestyle market," so the unit places special emphasis in working with the media that reaches that audience. The outreach communications media that are utilized are primarily print, direct mail, farm shows and public relations. In addition, the company sponsored a special promotion on RFD-TV.
THE NEXT FRONTIER
John Deere dealers conduct all their Frontier-related transactions through a secure Intranet site. Through this site, dealers can do the following:
• Order product
• Check order status
• Order parts
• Submit warranty information and claims
• Access product information bulletins
• Access pricing information
• Manage invoicing
Frontier has expanded to over 300 different models in the five years they have been in business. Horrell says that Frontier is competitively priced to please the price-conscious customer. Add to that the quality of the products, it's no surprise to find that Frontier expects to continue to aggressively grow its product offerings and increase the number of solutions available to customers and dealers.
"John Deere is solidly behind Frontier," says Brees. "They keep adding product lines and offerings, and that is giving our customers more choices."
DEERE's FRONTIER LINE
The Frontier line currently includes:
• Hay and Forage Equipment
• Landscaping Implements
• Loader Attachments
• Manure Spreaders
• Rotary Cutters
• Skid Steer Attachments
• Telehandler Attachments
• Tillage Equipment
• Turf Equipment
• Turf Care Implements
Customers can view the Frontier product line at www. BuyFrontier.com. In addition to pictures of the various products, the site also contains detailed information on specifications, options and standard features.