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What makes a good equipment clinic

What to Look for From a Dealership Equipment or Technology Clinic

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Customer clinics are a great opportunity for growers to learn about newer aspects of available products, find out about agronomic best practices, and build relationships with trusted dealer partners. Many equipment dealerships hold clinics throughout the year, giving growers plenty of opportunity to attend.

However, not all clinics are created equal. Between in-field activities, data analysis, and equipment care, growers don’t have time to invest in clinics that don’t provide valuable content.  

Here are four things to look for when seeking out a quality clinic from a local equipment dealer partner.

1. Look for Tellers Not Sellers
It’s understandable that companies are proud of the products they offer. Equipment dealerships have close partnerships with manufacturers and trust the equipment they offer. It’s common for presenters to share a few features and benefits about an exciting or new machine. However, a good presenter will ensure a clinic doesn’t become overly-detailed or take a sales-focused approach.

What makes a good clinic?
To avoid falling into a sales pitch trap, find out what topic(s) is being presented at a clinic to get a feel for an educational vs. sales message. While past experience attending a company’s clinics is the best way to know the format of its events, growers can look for reviews, recommendations, or info about past clinics to help vet the choices.

Related info: Keep up on local events, news, and offers by finding your nearby RDO store Facebook page.

2. Find Deeper Learning Opportunities
Every clinic should be educational in one way or another. That’s the basic expectation, the ice cream. Finding a clinic that builds on basic educational principles and offers something unexpected is the sprinkles, hot fudge, and cherry on top. That little extra is what separates a bland-but-okay event from an exciting, satisfying one.

A great clinic won’t stop at equipment features and benefits, it will be built around a bigger-picture idea or combine multiple aspects of farming that tie together. Rather than attend a clinic that’s a two-hour presentation on a tillage machine’s features and benefits, look for a topic that shows how in-field and agronomy practices best support that machine and function.

Also, clinics with a deeper focus are apt to include industry experts from outside the organization hosting the event. A tillage clinic, for example, might include members from Natural Resource Conservation Services discussing STIR ratings and Soil Conditioning Index, then tie back the conversation to the merits of the featured tillage equipment.

3. Seek Added Value
Clinics can be an opportunity to obtain information and training needed on an annual basis. For example, at a sprayer clinic primarily focused on precision application and basic sprayer nozzle selection, the RDO Equipment Co. team took the opportunity to weave in a discussion on reducing pesticide exposure. In partnership with state requirements, attendees were able to earn Pesticide License Recertification Education Credits at the event.

Not all states offer recertification credits nor can every clinic incorporate this specific type of added value. However, look for added value in other forms such as certification info, insights on an upcoming industry trend, or tips for better data management.

What makes a good clinic?

Related article: How to use the John Deere Operations Center for reporting

4. Consider a Unique Format
A great clinic needs at least one person sharing information, no doubt about that. However, some companies offer formats that let attendees take more control of what they learn.

RDO took this approach with a clinic where, rather than build the format around traditional presentations, the team flipped the event’s content focus back on the growers.

Five stations were set up: a new sprayer, new auto-steer features, telematics, John Deere Operations Center, and the latest harvest software. Attendees came, signed in, and right off the bat, shared their questions on equipment or equipment they planned to have in the future. Based on that conversation, they were directed to one of the five stations set up for a one-on-one discussion with an RDO team member who could speak to those questions.

This format created an environment that allowed direct questions and answers, in a quiet, judgement-free zone. Especially for those who are nervous to speak up and ask a question in a large group setting, this type of smaller, direct connection format might be a great fit.

Attend, Learn, Follow Up
A successful event is two-part – what happens at the event and, just as important, what happens after. Not every clinic will include a follow-up from presenters so growers should take this matter into their own hands and plan to follow up with hosts or presenters.

During the event, collect contact information from presenters, then send follow up questions or thoughts that come up after the event. Most, if not all, will be eager and gracious to answer questions, provide additional info, even demo a machine or product.

To maximize the ROI of attending a clinic, do some homework before and seek out, not just a good event, but a great event.

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About the Author

Erin Hightower has been working in farm planning and agronomy for 13 years. At RDO Equipment Co., she works with team members and growers in the Northwest region, focused on education and training, and conducting field trials. She’s a regular contributor to PrecisionAg.com, a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), and Certified USDA NRCS Nutrient Management Planner, Certified Conservation Planner, and Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planner. Connect with her on Twitter @RDOErinH.

Interested in more about precision agriculture? Check out the RDO Equipment Co. Agriculture Technology Podcast, browse past episodes, and find out more about everything from equipment to UAVs to specialty crop care.

Learn more about precision agriculture offerings from RDO Equipment Co. Browse listings of available used agriculture equipment for sale or find options by visiting your local RDO Equipment Co. store.