Going through this harvest season, what strategies did you use as precision farming dealers to efficiently meet the demand of your farm customers and what service elements would you like to improve on before next year?
“My phone rings all the time. That’s just part of it. But maybe we can avoid those in- season breakdowns by making sure they are working before we get into harvest season. Going out twice a year making sure equipment is calibrated and everything is working, I think that will play a bigger role in the strategy once we get that in place.
“I moved more product around to other locations where I knew they were going to have a better chance at needing it. I carry the navigation, the display, the receiver and the RTK radio with me, but there’s also some of that stuff other locations need, so back-up support is good. The guys at the stores knew where that stuff was if they needed it and it worked out pretty well, instead of having to wait two days to order one in.”
— Jeremy Dasher, Archbold Equipment Co., Archbold, Ohio
“Strategically, this season when it comes to taking care of our precision farming customers, we offered great turnaround time and we tackled the more pressing issues first before taking care of the issues that weren’t holding up a customer’s operation. When it comes to meeting the demand of farmers this year, we have done very well. The main issue this year for harvest is to have a well-calibrated yield monitoring system for crop insurance purposes. The insurance companies want to see yield maps to verify the damages the poor growing season did to the crops. “Along with that we had some demand for yield monitoring systems one week into harvest when we asked the customer how soon they needed it, they would reply, ‘Yesterday.’”
“This is typically how it goes in the ag industry and we did what we could to get them a system and install it in a timely manner. Overall, we only had a few issues that ended up being a quick setting change or a small hardware replacement. “For next year, we need to continue to offer great service and support of our precision farming equipment, and continue our excellent turnaround times. There is nothing a farmer hates more than having down time when the crop and the weather are just right to be in the field.”
— Nathan Zimmerman, A.C. McCartney, Wataga, Ill.
“One thing we tried to focus on was more hands-on training for customers this year. A lot of issues that pop up during harvest are with switches on the yield monitors and we wanted to educate customers on how to handle some of those. We were pretty busy, so I think that helped a bit.
“One thing could do is keep more equipment on hand during the season, because nobody likes to wait when something breaks down.”
— Clint Nester, Nester Ag LLC, Bryan, Ohio
“One of our approaches during busy times is to have phone support — not 24 hours a day — but extended hours and basically someone has a phone on them at all times throughout the harvest season. I think customers appreciate it and the benefits are twofold. One, it gives the end user somebody that is available to them seven days a week who can help answer questions like ‘How do I do this on the display?’ which can be done over the phone rather than wait.
“We found the training sessions we’ve done in the past have eliminated a lot of the questions on initial start-up and set-up, so more end-user training is a goal of ours so that they are refreshed right before they go into the field. You can never hit everything, but the basics, like getting them back into the display set-up, is helpful.
“Training on more specific product lines is the next step we’ll be jumping in to. Not only do you focus on a specific product, but you limit the group of people who will be there so there will likely be better feedback and response.”
— Aaron Hacker, Elite Ag Solutions, Warren, Ind.
“One thing we did this year was have a training class on monitors and brought guys in to try and at least get them in front of that monitor before the first day of harvest. That class was a hit and this spring we’re going to do an autopilot class for the Trimble monitors right before planting season. Farmers are so busy year-round, that they won’t stop to take the time to do it. If you throw a class in front of them, even if it’s not free, they are ecstatic we are doing it.
“Cheat sheets and what it takes to set a monitor up for the year also worked really well. Pre-season checklists — especially on moisture sensors — is a good idea and something we tried this year. I felt like it was a positive.
“One thing I’d like to do in the future is work on data transfer and try to explain to guys how to do it.”
— Spud Armstrong, Ag Technologies, Rochester, Ind.