Build Dealer Relationships for Preventive Maintenance on Combines

Preventive maintenance: It’s as much about relationships as it is repairs.

Trevor Sonnevelv, corporate service manager for all five Advantage Farm Equipment Ltd. dealerships in Ontario, says a relationship between the dealer and customer is an important aspect in any service and maintenance program. Like many dealers, Advantage Farm Equipment offers a variety of service packages to their customers. That includes preventive maintenance inspections tailored specifically to combines, grain headers and corn heads.

“We offer a 142-point inspection on the combine alone,” says Sonnevelv, who is also a licensed technician himself. “That process takes about five hours. At that end, we give the customer a list of everything we found, along with our recommendations for repair or replacement. That’s where it is important to know something about the customer and his use of the combine. Does he grow edible beans, which tend to bring more dirt into the machine with the crop, or does he harvest soybeans, which tend to cause more wear? So we’ll try to provide a life potential .

“We may explain, for example that the elements on the rotor appear to be about 60% worn and should be able to go another season. But if he’s going to be getting into several acres of hard-threshing wheat next summer, he may want to do something now.

So, it always pays to consult with the customer and get to know his or her practices. There may be times it’s beneficial to replace a part or component, even though it’s still within specifications.”

A recommendation may also depend on how many acres the customer farms and how much downtime is worth to him. In other words, is a $200 belt now worth more or less than a couple hours of downtime during harvest?

“Sometimes it’s worth spending a little more now to prevent a breakdown during harvest,” he explains. “Other times, the customer may choose to risk it.”

Sonnevelv also understands that some customers choose to save money by doing some of the work themselves. “They may prefer to do their own repairs,” he explains. “So, we’ll give them a parts quote, they buy the parts from us and do the work themselves.”

Sonnevelv says he’s not afraid to point out inspection points to his customers, either, even though it may cost the dealership some service business in the short term. “But, in the long run, it builds trust with our customers and we know they will be back when they do need us, whether it’s for repairs or a new machine.”

<< See the full story, “Don’t Wait For A Harvest Breakdown”