Excellent customer service is invaluable in any business, and agriculture is no exception. Purdue Extension provides tips for maintaining good customer relations in "An Agricultural Retailer's Guide to Customer Care."

The publication is geared toward agricultural retailers who sell to growers and specifically to those who provide production supplies such as chemicals, seed and fuel for farm operations, said Scott Downey, associate director of the Purdue-based Center for Food and Agricultural Business.

"One of the things that's hard for small organizations is finding resources that are prepared well and customized for their industry," he said. "This is created with the agricultural retailer in mind. They don't have to pick up a business book and try to tailor it toward their needs."

In addition to discussing the relationship between agricultural retailers and farmers, the publication reviews the importance of being responsive to changes in farm operations and maintaining customer loyalty.

"Everybody within the organization is responsible for relationships with customers," Downey said. "This includes how individuals carry themselves, how the organization interfaces with customers and what kinds of promises they make and how the individual employee must deliver on those promises."

Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs, said the publication will help retailers and employees understand what it takes to succeed in the market.

"Growers want the best," Whitford said. "There's no such thing as average. In this particular world of working with growers, we have to have good products, good equipment, good people and wonderful service. If you don't have all of those things coming together, you're not able to keep and expand your business."

Whitford said employers could use the publication for annual training sessions and as a guide for new employees. It is available at http://www.ppp.purdue.edu/PPP_pubs.html under publication number ppp-90. It can be downloaded for free. A printed copy can be ordered for $1 by clicking on the publication number or by calling Purdue Extension's Education Store at 888-398-4636.

For more information on the publication or topics discussed in it, contact Downey at 765-494-4325, downeyws@purdue.edu.