Seeking quicker solutions to in-season problems, a precision specialist in Indiana launches his own online dealer tech support forum.
On the cusp of planting season, precision farming specialists are preparing for the annual onslaught of service calls from anxious equipment operators wanting a quick fix to their technology problems.
While some issues can be resolved with a brief phone conversation, others require more extensive, in-person investigation and sometimes a call to the precision manufacturer’s product support line.
But making that call during planting or harvest can be either a blessing or a curse, says Nick Lund, precision farming specialist with Koenig Equipment, a Case IH dealership in Gas City, Ind.
“Our tech support lines are very thorough, but I’ve had times where I’ll call in to a manufacturer and there are 4 people ahead of me, so I’d sit in the tractor cab for over a half hour waiting for an answer to something that took 10 minutes to fix,” he says. “Those calls are sometimes the last ones of the day, because I know it’s not a problem that will be solved in a matter of minutes and I can’t waste time in the middle of a busy day waiting.”
In some cases, Lund has called tech support an hour and a half ahead of a customer appointment to time the expected response from a manufacturer with his arrival at the farm.
Looking for a more efficient way to get precision problems solved in a timely manner and avoid frustrated customers, Lund recently launched a website — www.precisiontechsupport.com — as a problem-solving forum for precision farming dealers.
“Talking with dealers at industry events, we’re finding that the number of problems we encounter are probably 10 fold more than what manufacturer representatives actually know about,” Lund says. “I saw a big need for a place online where us dealers can discuss problems we run into, and come up with solutions.”
Lund developed the site independent of Koenig, but says the dealership’s management gave its blessing for him to launch and manage the site last October.
There is a modest membership fee of $3.99 per year for a single dealer and $9.99 for an entire dealership group.
So far, the forum has about 20 members, mostly from local dealerships in Indiana and Illinois. By the end of the year, Lund hopes to have 100 members.
He says his goal isn’t to make money off of the forum, but Lund wanted to charge a nominal membership fee to limit the number of casual members.
“This is a dealer-to-dealer forum and quite honestly, not everything we post is something we want farmers seeing,” he says. “So for a couple of bucks, the goal is to provide enough value for dealer members to justify the cost.”
Lund recently shared a solution he came across to avoid an error when installing a Case IH update to a Trimble NAV 2 Controller auto-steering component. The fix involved tricking the systems to prevent a failure, a solution, which would have otherwise required a potentially lengthy call to tech support.
Another area where Lund hopes the forum will provide value is with solutions to equipment compatibility problems.
“ISOBUS standards are supposed to cover every color, but compatibility problems haven’t gone away,” he says. “A lot of manufacturers still play the blame game when it comes to diagnosing an ISO problem, so hopefully, this forum will be a place precision specialists can find solutions before they get into the field.”