Around 2008, I had a GPS Ontario customer with a precision product issue in Sarnia, Ontario, a good 8-hour drive for me. I left at 3 in the morning to go see him, and when I got on site, it only took me 6 minutes to solve his issue before turning around and driving home. It’s all I was able to do all day. The invoice went to the customer, and he said, “You were only here for 5 minutes. Why am I paying $2,000?”

With remote support tools, I can solve the same problem with his precision equipment in the same amount of time, but only bill for the 6 minutes I spent on the issue. With such a huge time and cost savings, why aren’t more dealerships and their customers choosing remote support?

It’s because it requires dealerships to overcome a big hurdle — re-educating the customer. Some farmers see more value when I’m there physically pushing the button for them, but they’re missing out on the major cost and time savings that result from remote support.

Geographically, GPS Ontario’s distribution with Trimble covers all of Ontario, and we are servicing 800 to 1,000 customers in our territory. I could drive 16 hours and not get to the end of our sales territory. By utilizing Trimble’s TeamViewer, I can get a grower up and running in a matter of minutes, rather than days. TeamViewer is an app that works with Trimble GFX displays running on an Android platform. When connected to the Internet, it allows me to see what is on a farmer’s screen. I can even push the buttons to configure or calibrate displays remotely.

The process to access the app is very simple. While on the phone with a farmer, I’ll have them open the TeamViewer app and read me a 10-digit access code. I’ll type that code into TeamViewer on my laptop and hit connect, which will prompt the farmer to allow me to access their screen. As soon as they hit allow, I have the ability to see exactly what’s on their display. There’s no more guesswork at that point.

We invoice by the minute when we’re providing a support call, which is much less than billing by the hour for an on-site visit and the travel time it takes to get there. Our average bill is around $25 or $30 for remote support. Compare that to a $600 bill for driving out to the farm to do the same fix or even the cost of the $30,000 GPS system. Factor in the wait time to get a visit scheduled, and you’re risking losing a lot of valuable time in the field.

It took us a while to get our customers used to the idea of remote support. We started by providing a year of phone support with every Trimble system that we sell and showing the customer how quick and effective working through issues over the phone can be. I see remote precision support as a big game-changer for the industry, and we as dealers have to get into the habit of training and educating our customers to accept remote support as their primary option for precision help.


Precision Farming Dealer’s series “Technically Speaking” is brought to you by Trimble Agriculture. This monthly article features insight, advice and observations from precision farming experts on a variety of trending and topical dealer-focused topics.

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