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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.

In The Shop: Reading Customer's Minds

Nov 23, 2010

 It's that time of year when customers bring equipment to the shop for annual maintenance and repairs. The time of year when mechanics hear daily, "What would you do if it was your machine?"

A more accurate way to phrase that question is, "What would you do if you were me?" It doesn't matter what I--the mechanic--would do if it was mine. Because I'm a mechanic I'm going to definitely fix some things, cobble some others, and tinker and play with aspects of the machine that I like to tinker and play with.

"What would you do if you were me" allows quick-thinking mechanics to role play and give the customer useful answers based on the CUSTOMER'S needs and personality. The mechanic can combine his knowledge of the customer's personality (short-tempered, patient, tight-fisted, good-natured, etc.) with the condition of the machine (like-new, worn-out, "seasoned,", etc.) to come up with suggestions on what repairs NEED to be made and what repairs COULD be made. 

I've got customers who, "if I was them..." would get suggestions for replacing every loose nut and every worn cotter key. I know they don't have any patience for breakdowns, dislike working on equipment, and are willing to pay extra bucks to never have to leave their machine's cab until they quit for the day. If I put myself in those customers' shoes, I list every possible trouble-point, check every nut and bolt and try to make the machine showroom perfect knowing it will cost beaucoup bucks trying to attain perfection. But that's the only way to give those customers what they want.

Other customers like getting every dollar out of their machines, accept that machines break down occasionally, and don't mind a little rust or faded paint. If I was that sort of customer, I'd fix the obvious stuff, cobble the small stuff, and not waste their time pointing out every small potential problem. It only makes me look like I'm trying to gouge them for more than they want.

So if a mechanic cringes when asked, "What would you do if it was yours?", rephrase the question as, "What would you do if you were me?" Just be prepared for bad news if his first response is, "I'd start drinking heavily..."

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