Farmers National Company quite literally covers a lot of ground. They are the largest farm and ranch management firm in the United States, managing 5,000 farms and more than two million acres across 29 states. They are also the largest agricultural real estate firm in the country, selling about $450 million of farm land each year. And that just scratches the surface of the company’s 11 business lines, which include a range of services for landowners, such as oil and gas management, forest resources management, appraisals, insurance and consultations.
Aware of the company’s established reputation in land management, banks began contacting Farmers National to see if they also offered collateral inspection services. The banks needed an entity to conduct comprehensive inspections of farm properties and assets to make sure they matched up with the information provided by loan applicants. Farmers National had the expertise to perform this kind of work, so they set up an internal division to begin performing the inspections. However, a major obstacle quickly reared its head: a highly manual, time intensive process bogged down by loads of paperwork.
A Solution to Help Scale the Business Line
Matt Gunderson, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Farmers National, realized there was zero opportunity to scale the new collateral inspection services business line if they continued operating with the manual process in place. They needed to digitize. But Gunderson knew the search for a solution could prove challenging, considering the unique scenarios of this business line.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Gunderson was looking for an integrated software package that not only worked with or without cell phone connection, but also offered a user-friendly interface, customization capabilities, intelligent form fields and advanced data calculations–all at a reasonable cost. After testing out five different options, Farmers National decided to partner with Device Magic. “Device Magic offered the functionality and customization we needed. They were going to be able to deliver the best product and within the timelines we needed it,” said Gunderson.
Rapid Return on Investment
Once the decision was made, Gunderson and Farmers National IT manager, Jim Manuel, worked closely with the Device Magic team to configure the forms, workflows and reporting exactly how they needed it before implementation across the collateral inspections division. They went “live” with the new process in the fourth quarter of 2020, and by Q1 2021, the results were already significant.
- Collateral inspection report processing time was reduced by 75 percent.
- Inspectors’ backend processing time was reduced by nearly 50 percent.
- The company was able to nationally scale the new business line.
Discovering the Added Perks
The company’s number one goal had been achieved: a successful process transformation to support a national rollout of the new collateral inspections business line. While significant reductions in backend processing time delivered the biggest impact, Gunderson and his team quickly discovered a multitude of added benefits that came along with their Device Magic partnership.
Once Gunderson and Manuel had the system ready for implementation, they held a two hour training session to get all team members up to speed on Device Magic and the new process. That’s all it took: two hours and their inspector and administrative teams were up and running with the new tool. After a few months of utilization, Gunderson held a post mortem meeting with the inspectors. The response was unanimous–the team was extremely pleased with the new system.
Even the company’s most tech-adversed inspector delivered positive feedback: “Never once did I find myself frustrated while transitioning to the new process. Our IT manager, Jim Manuel, had a great understanding of Device Magic and was able to effectively teach me how to use it. The software works extremely well and I would never want to return to our previous system.”
Forms and Report Customization
Due to the nature of the collateral inspections business line, Farmers National never knows what they’ll be asked to inspect until the request comes in from the bank. The ability to customize each inspection form based on the unique requests was another critical element.
While Gunderson made sure this was a feature Device Magic offered before selecting it, he quickly realized the product support team was ready to take it to the next level to provide the unique functionality they needed.
“We may be asked to do inspections across five different categories, and within each of those categories, there may be 75 different subcategories and advanced calculations to perform for each category. It can become extremely complex,” explained Gunderson. “We needed a software that could adapt and handle a wide range of requests. Device Magic stepped up to the plate.”
It’s no surprise that inspections involving hundreds of subcategories yield massive reports. In some cases, the collateral inspection reports top off at about 250 pages. And each report involves unique calculations–confidence intervals, inspection percentages, the list continues. Prior to onboarding Device Magic, these manual calculations all fell on Gunderson’s plate. Not anymore. Now, the advanced calculations are configured within the platform and Device Magic software does the dirty work.
The report customization advantages didn’t stop there. With several moving parts and inspectors flying across the country to perform the inspections, the team needed format flexibility and the ability to easily go into a report, make edits or fill-in missing items and resubmit.
The Partnership Perspective
This isn’t Gunderson’s first rodeo. Throughout his professional career, he has researched and worked with multiple vendors offering everything from basic office supplies to integrated software platforms. When it came to tackling a digital transformation in an effort to nationally scale a brand new business line, Gunderson wasn’t in search of a run-of-the-mill solution or tool. He was in search of a partner. “Sometimes you need someone that’s in this with you from a partnership perspective to go through the thick and thin with it. Device Magic has become a great partner. And that drives success for everyone involved.”