On the cusp of spring planting, dealerships are facing the dilemma of accepting the new reality of social distancing and self-quarantine, or taking advantage of the tools and talent they have to continue delivering high-quality service to farm customers.

One way dealers are compensating for a change to traditional pre-season plans is to pivot from in-person planter clinics to online versions. Several are delivering helpful YouTube links and tutorials to customers, but still making on-farm visits as needed for setups and installations.

Joel Kaczynski, product specialist manager with RDO Equipment, a 35-ag store operation in 8 states, and 2020 Most Valuable Dealership, notes the dealership has also emphasized digital learning tools for customers by creating videos and recommendations and then getting links to customers who had planned to attend one of their in-person spring events.

This all plays into an increase in remote support opportunities that Kaczynski and other say are becoming increasingly valuable to troubleshoot precision problems for customers.

Social distancing has presented us with an opportunity to use technology we have to virtually connect. In many instances this is requiring us and our customers to culturally adapt. I've already seen an uptick of using tools to connect remotely. One example we had was the cancellation of a spring planting clinic. In order to get the information to our customers the team created a video with the information that was going to be presented at the clinic that can be shared with customers.”

But dealers acknowledge the remote communication still has its limitations, especially as farmers get closer to getting into the field. While dealers are passing along social distancing guidelines to customers ahead of on-farm visits, the reality is specialists still need to climb into a tractor cab, manually check planter drives or test run prescriptions in the field.