How do precision specialists at your dealership handle after-hours service calls from farm customers, and how are these being billed?
“When it comes to service calls and billing, it’s a case by case basis. If the service call has to do with a newly installed system, i.e. the first season with the equipment, I try to provide an “installation warranty” and take care of any mechanical or operator problems for the customer to help them get them comfortable.
“For most of them, it is their first experience with precision farming and can be a bit overwhelming. Any negative experience will push them away from precision farming. For older equipment, I do fill out a service call report where the customer is responsible for mileage to their farm and the time it takes to resolve the issue, just as our normal technicians would do.
“I have been promoting to customers that in 2015 we are going to roll out a precision farming service plan. After planting and harvest, I’ll be able to go back to the customer and explain that we can help them manage the expense of maintaining their precision equipment in the future by providing that high level of service, dedication and support at a fixed rate, while allowing the dealership to recover some of the expense of providing it.
“If they opt out of enrolling in the service plan, they would be responsible for mileage and labor hours for each issue on a case by case basis. Most customers I’ve discussed the service plan with see the value of having a dedicated precision farming specialist to meet their needs, and that it may be the middle ground for the dealership to recoup some expense without having to charge for a service call each time.
“We have a lot of work ahead in developing the service plan by deciding what is included, what isn’t, cost applied to the customer, etc. But having a plan will be a step in the right direction for the precision farming department, our dealership and our customers.”
— Matt Rhodenhizer,
St. Joseph Equipment,
La Crosse, Wis.
“We offer a call center called the Remote Support Center (RSC) during business hours and after hours and during the weekend. This is a service that is offered to all of our AMS customers per an annual agreement.
“If they are members of the RSC, they can call our support line anytime for remote support, but the customer is billed per call. If we dispatch after hours, we bill our customers on a per hour basis.”
— Steve Kaufman,
“Our dealership is relatively new to precision and only have a handful of precision customers so I have given my personal number out to those customers. Using John Deere's display simulator I can usually walk customers through the process over the phone.
“We currently do not charge customers for this service. Once our precision customer base gets larger we will look into selling customers a Deere Customer Call Center subscription.”
— Mike Britts,
New Virginia Tractor,
“It’s hard to define after hours, because my customer base doesn’t have defined work hours, so neither can I. I have to be available when they need me. We have an unlimited phone and email support option for our precision technology service plans.
“I tell everyone during planting and harvest I will answer the phone from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. If customers paid for the phone support option, it’s all-inclusive. Now, if they call at noon on a Sunday or 7 p.m. on a Tuesday in January, that call will be going to voicemail and I will call them back in the morning.
— Phil Moskal,
“We don’t have an after-hours charge for service and aren’t sure how to handle it. Right now, we just have service charges built into the packages we sell. However, we do have a charge for after-hours parts service.”
— Perry Berezowski,
Rocky Mountain Equipment,
“After-hours service calls are handled on a first come, first serve basis. All calls are included in the price of installation.”
— David Nelson,
El Campo, Texas