Friday, December 15, 2017

Tractor envy

October 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Clodhopper

stubblefield

When it comes to tractors, the back-up is probably more important than the brand, says Clodhopper.

The one advantage of this year’s early harvest was that it freed me up to help my neighbour finish his. And what an experience it was.

With my below average crops safely in the shed and prices on a downward slide, I seized what I thought would be a welcome chance to see how things are done next door. So armed with my oversized lunchbox, my neighbour’s tractor and grain trailer became my second home.

His farm is twice as big as mine and early combine trouble had resulted in a late start. But what started out as a busman’s holiday ended with me questioning my choice of tractor brand. And when the time comes, I might just change the habit of a lifetime and buy one that is a different colour.

After all, business revolves around relationships and understanding each other’s needs. I have no doubt that the firm I usually buy my tractors from think they are the best. But all too often, they seem to have issues with their service department.

Years ago, I was on first name terms with the fitters, who were good at what they did. These days the fitters seem younger. They also seem less competent. Less fit for the job, as it were. Is it me, or do the younger generation have lower standards?

Poor servicing erodes the confidence of the customer. And when my neighbour had reason to call out the fitters, I saw how it should be done. They arrived quickly. They worked promptly and efficiently. Their understanding of the machine was first class. So were their manners.

That is how it should be. Me? When it comes to having my tractor serviced, I feel I am being bled dry. Maybe familiarity really does breed contempt. Maybe I have been a loyal customer for too long. Or maybe my tractor dealer just doesn’t care for me anymore.

Other than the combine harvester, a tractor is probably my most expensive farm related purchase. But that doesn’t mean it should be a costly experience. Some tractors offer far higher specifications than others. But farmers have a limited budget and little things make all the difference.

My neighbour’s tractor even seemed more comfortable than mine. The cab design was great. There was even ample room for the lunchbox! The controls were easy to operate, the throttle seemed better positioned and the seat was easier to adjust.

When you buy a machine, you buy from the salesman. But the back-up is probably more important as the brand. I bought locally, but my neighbour purchased his tractor from farther afield. Yet his fitters arrive more quickly than mine, even though they have much further to travel.

Details like this are important when things go wrong. When you buy a tractor, it’s important to look beyond the final price and consider the serve costs and the aftercare support. And of course the way you are treated. Remember, the customer is always right.

How much longer will I put up with the arrogance of youth or poor customer service? Not for too much longer. With little sign that any of my gripes will be resolved, I’m already seeking out a dealer with different standards and styles. Why I did not do so before, I do not know.

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