As we’ve all learned, the skillset possessed by a really good precision ag technology specialist is hard to find. They are in high demand and thus expensive, and they take extensive training to develop. 

So why waste your truly valuable time dealing with the basics? I strongly believe these mainstream technologies should be installed, diagnosed and repaired by our service technicians. 

Service technicians should also be the go-to guys for routine software updates and activations. Again, why waste the valuable time of a precision ag specialist to perform these fairly simple tasks?

You are probably asking yourself — why? It’s my view that by the very nature of most precision specialists, they tend to give away these mainstream service opportunities for free because they view themselves as consultants and not technicians. 

And to a large extent they are, whereas our service technicians are used to billing for their time and materials, and customers are also used to being billed for a service call on a malfunctioning machine when the service is done by a service technician. 

The result is a much improved bottom line for the service department and a precision technology specialist that has freed up time to provide value-
added services and handle the newer, more complex precision technologies with our customers. 

To be successful in this transition, the service technicians have to be trained and understand these mainstream technologies to able to be conversational about them with our customers.

“Our goal is to have every employee be at least at a conversational level and understand the basic difference between things like RTK and SF1 guidance…”

Most importantly, the expectation to be proficient in technology across the organization has to be conveyed and supported by management from the top down. A couple of years ago, when we really started getting serious about mainstreaming our basic precision ag technology products, we made a portion of our salespeople’s commissions at risk if he or she did not pass a basic proficiency exam that tested their knowledge of basic precision ag practices and equipment. 

Today, we have set an expectation that every salesperson can log in and walk a customer through the [John Deere] Operations Center and be conversational about its capabilities. 

We also have an expectation that every one of our parts specialists, salespeople, service technicians, and even our support center staff know their way around a display and can set an A-B line.

Our goal is to have every employee be at least at a conversational level and understand the basic difference between things like RTK and SF1 guidance. Being conversational in the fundamentals of precision keeps our employees connected with their customers. 

Our senior leadership team firmly believes that today’s precision agriculture is really just agriculture today. Mainstreaming the basic precision products and services frees up our talented precision specialists to focus on the more advanced technologies involving complex applications, such as robotics, artificial intelligence and autonomy, as well as the chance to provide data analytics and consultation services that really increase the stickiness we are all looking to develop with our customers. 

Your precision ag technology specialists can’t be delivering these kinds of added value services to your customers if you’re having them tied up on an auto check malfunction.