When the dealership gets busy during planting and harvesting, precision land management (PLM) specialist Darcy Hutchison, can spend an enormous amount of time servicing the small dealership’s spread out customer base. Having the OEM handle a lot of simple phone calls frees him up to handle more complicated in field repairs and service.
Running a precision department in a smaller dealership with a large service area comes with a unique set of challenges. Keeping up with support calls during planting and harvest can be one of the toughest.
This becomes especially difficult without a precision hardware service package in place to help cover the costs of calls, which is the case for Darcy Hutchison, precision land management (PLM) specialist at Rathell Farm Equipment’s single location dealership in Cordova, Md.
But he has started making use of manufacturer service packages to help take some of that pressure off, until the dealership can further develop its internal precision support platform.
“Right now we don’t have a precision equipment service package, and we’ve had trouble introducing one,” says Hutchison. “Customers in our area have built up the expectation that based on the price of the equipment they should get help with it any time they call and they’re resistant to wanting to pay for a support subscription with us.”
To cover the costs, Hutchison says he has to raise equipment prices slightly, which usually works out, but it’s always a guessing game. Often times, customers just need over the phone consultation, but in the busy season this can get overwhelming.
“I have a lot of customers who if they can’t figure something out they go into panic mode and need to be talked through it,” says Hutchison. “But they’re all calling at the same time and usually need help immediately because they’re on the edge of the field.”
Without having a precision equipment service and support subscription to sell customers, justifying the cost of support has been difficult at Rathell Farm Equipment in Maryland. Precision specialist Darcy Hutchison has started looking to New Holland and Trimble’s ready-made support packages as a supplement to the services he provides.
However, recently Hutchison has been working with customers to enroll them in manufacturer support programs. Not only has this taken some of the busy season pressure off, it has helped ensure that all of his customers are getting the help they need.
“Trimble and New Holland both offer phone support packages that I’ve had success getting customers into,” says Hutchison. “Through a service package they’ll get unlimited direct line calls for cheaper than I’d have to charge them, and faster too.”
Zach Gettman, worldwide support manager for agriculture at Trimble, points out that the company’s packages cover both their hardware and software.
“The end user package is available for $399 per year and it’ll get a customer directly to technical support, who are actually the same people our dealers talk to, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday,” says Gettman.
Hutchison realizes that billing customers for precision support is a necessity, and he hopes to get a permanent plan in place at Rathell. But until then, he wants to make sure customers have an avenue to get their precision problems solved in a timely manner.