Celebrating my dad’s birthday this past weekend with family, one of the gifts he asked for — and we gave him — was a mobile tablet. This was admittedly a journey into uncharted technology waters for someone who’s never owned a cell phone and still regularly watches VHS cassettes.
But to his credit, my dad has an interest — if not yet a developed understanding — of the value and opportunities that 21st century technology can provide. The key to unlocking that potential will be both his willingness to learn and our ability to teach (my tech-savvy son will almost certainly take the lead on this end.)
There are certainly learning curve parallels with consumer adoption of technology and the precision farming tools that farmers are having installed on their tractors and implements. I was reminded of these during our most recent Day in the Cab visit which took place right on the cusp of planting season in central Illinois.
Riding along with precision farming manager Nathan Zimmerman from A.C. McCartney Equipment for the next dealer profile in our Summer print edition of Precision Farming Dealer, he was inundated with calls from anxious farm customers seeking immediate help with monitor setups, planter inspections and GPS signal unlocks.
One particularly memorable call was from a farmer who needed a step-by-step walkthrough of how to reset his farm fields with 2016 planting information on the tractor monitor. Through each sequential button push, screen description and tangential question, Zimmerman calmly and decisively talked the customer through the problem during the 23-minute conversation.
“You can’t get frustrated, or you can’t do this job,” he said afterward. “I view my role as the face of the company because we’re dealing with customers almost on a daily basis during busy season.”
But patience has its profitable side as well. Zimmerman and the dealership recently implemented an annual phone service package for $300 and had about 30% of customers initially sign up. For those without the plan — as was the case for the step-by-step monitor reset — it’s a $25 charge per call.
“For that one, we got about $1 per minute, so knowing that we’re getting paid for our time is comforting,” Zimmerman says. “He’s also never bought any equipment from us, so hopefully the fact that we were able to solve his problem will bring him into our store next time he’s looking for a new planter. That’s what we’re out here for.”