Aug 28, 2014
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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.

The Season of Desperation

Jun 07, 2014

 The post-emerge spraying season is a time of desperation. Whether it's a commercial sprayer or a farmer with his own machine, there's a limited window of opportunity to get all the fast-growing crops sprayed before they get too big. Add the frequent, unpredicatable rains of June, and the stage is set for frustrated customers and mechanics.

Let's say Joe Blow from 150 miles away shopped the internet last winter, and found the sweet deal he wanted on a sprayer at your dealership. Now, six months later, Joe can't figure out why his spray rate keeps fluctuating. He's not technically-oriented, has little patience for asking/answering questions over the phone, and wants a mechanic to come fix the sprayer right now as part of the one-year warranty he got when he purchased the machine. Does the dealership immediately send a mechanic for the all-day-or-longer trip, or take care of loyal local customers first, and schedule a service call to the foreign customer once the locals are taken care of?

Or, how about if a mechanic's cell phone rings and it's a call from a farmer from across the state who got the number from his cousin who is a loyal local customer of the dealership. The cross-state farmer is having trouble with his sprayer. His nearby dealership can't or won't help him, and his cousin recommended he call the mechanic because the mechanic is an ace at fixing things. How much time does the mechanic spend on the phone trying to help the stranger who will never buy anything from the dealership? 

Then there's the situation where a mechanic is desperately pulling wrenches in the shop on a customer's sprayer, trying to get it back in the field before the heavy rains forecasted for the next day. Another customer strides into the shop and demands answers to why his sprayer isn't working. With luck, the mechanic can keep working on the sprayer at hand while answering the walk-in questions, but if the walk-in requires technical advice found only in tech books, how much time does the mechanic spend away from the machine he's supposed to be working on? And does he charge the walk-in for the 15 to 20 minutes he spent away from his assigned work?

In most cases service managers deal with such questions and decide who gets helped and who doesn't. But sometimes customers want to deal with hands-on mechanics rather than managers, and either call the mechanic directly or walk into the shop with questions.

It almost makes a mechanic yearn for the 8 weeks of fixing combines during harvest, when things are intense, but not quite so desperate.

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