AORs lead to poor farm equipment customer service

AORs lead to poor farm equipment customer service

It seems we are soon headed down the road of shopping farm equipment brands rather than dealers

Area Of Responsibility, territories, sales districts -- whatever the company calls them, they are hurting the farmer customer. With these "zones," sales of some lines of new equipment outside given geographies are restricted, or in some cases, penalized.

Related: Looking beyond the current market to the next equipment wave

Case at hand: We recently took delivery of our combine earlier in September. The machine had been at the dealership since early February. When we were ready to take the machine to the field, the machine was not ready to go. What a frustration!

A John Deere combine is offered for sale at an Illinois dealership, August 19, 2009. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

I personally spent five hours completing/correcting the setup. Then a service tech spent another couple of hours. Once we took the machine to the field, the yield sensor, steering wheel sensor, and auto lube failed immediately. The nav controller had never been installed! The sensors have since been replaced, the nav installed, but the oiler still leaks.

I don't believe it is too much to ask that when a machine is delivered, it is complete and ready to go. This means configured to our preferences, calibrated (there are now about a dozen calibrations), fully compatible with the heads, and tested as much as reasonably possible. This service will be what distinguishes dealers in the future.

No motivation for equipment dealers
What is the motivation for the dealership to do better? There is none. More or less, dealers have farms over a barrel, especially if there is brand loyalty. With restricted geographies, the consumer may be fortunate to have a couple of choices where to do business. Alternatives have gotten worse with dealership consolidation and mergers the last few years.

Related: Equipment sales see bump, for smaller machines

I have been told the manufacturers want to deal with fewer dealers. However, manufacturers are forcing our hand. It seems we are soon headed down the road of shopping brands rather than dealers. Is that really what they want? It seems it would be better for market share if that brand of machine was sold, no matter which dealer sells it. 

The opinions of Kyle Stackhouse are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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