While still on the cusp of planting season, precision specialists have been feeling the service pressure build for several weeks. Checking in with a few dealers recently, they didn’t mince words with how hectic it’s been.
One specialist at a farm equipment dealership in north central Illinois told me, “We are running around like chickens with our heads cut off doing installations. We’ve been very, very busy for a few months now and surprisingly, customers are still ordering equipment, and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.”
The experienced specialists, or even those who have gone through at least one full planting and harvest cycle, know what to expect this time of year. Of course, this doesn’t ease the burden or potential burnout that can occur.
But it’s also important to put the season in perspective. Getting customers motivated and keeping employees inspired is essential to sustain productivity, and can sometimes take a little creativity to achieve.
One precision dealer in Missouri took a unique approach inviting customers to do pre-season calibrations of seed meters on their planters. Rather than promote the service as standard maintenance, the dealer partnered with local 4H and FFA chapters to donate $5 per row to the organizations for seed meter calibrations.
“We typically charge $25-$30 per row to run customer’s meters and wanted to give them an opportunity to have us donate a portion of the cost to a local agricultural youth organization,” the Missouri dealer says. “It’s a nice tie in, but a very simple promotion to get customers to do something they need to do anyway.”
The campaign — called “Calibrate for a Cause” — generated 200 customer registrations during the first few weeks through e-mail blasts, radio ads and printed flyers. The Missouri dealer has a goal of 1,000 customer participants in the program before spring.
While the promotion is succeeding in attracting customers to proactively get their planter technology ready for the season — and generate a little revenue for the dealership — it also serves as a valuable customer service tool and public relations effort. Precision specialists at the dealership invited 4H and FFA members to assist in the calibrations and get hands-on experience with precision technology.
With many dealers still struggling to recruit and retain precision employees, it’s never too early to expose the next generation of farmer or technician to the capabilities of today’s technology.
Not only can creative pre-season service programs help minimize in-season stress, but they can also promote and maintain a positive attitude throughout the dealership, long after seeds are planted.