Your New Best Buddy...

May 13, 2013

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If you are thinking about moving to machine control technology, there are a lot of major decisions that will need to be made. And the very first one is probably the most important... dealer selection.

More often than not, a contractor will automatically call a dealer they already know... from having purchased heavy equipment, a construction laser or total station or other equipment. That may be an easy starting point, but it may not always be your best option. Although it is relatively easy to make the transition to machine control and site positioning, it is definitely not a simple “over-the-counter” purchase. You really need to find a partner who has a deep understanding of the breadth of options and who takes the time to understand your business needs before recommending a certain investment. 

In addition, you want an organization who has the capabilities and resources to make your transition a smooth one and to support you for years to come.  You’re really looking for a partner instead of a vendor, so here are a few things you should look for in that technology partner:

  •  First and foremost, look for a dealer that will take the time to understand your business: the kind of work you do, your team, how you make money.  If they don’t understand this, how can they advise you and your business?
  •  Second, ask them to explain the technology and how it works, and what it will take to make it a tailored, productive solution for your specific work requirements.  Even if you you’re getting more information than you need, this will give you a sense of the dealer understands your organization and whether you will work well together. 
  •  Although you may be starting small, your needs will likely grow, so make sure the dealer has the breadth and depth of solutions to let you scale your technology for the future growth and direction of your business.  Ask about the size of the dealer’s field support team, and check out the parts warehouse: do they have new product on hand, is it well organized, do they have an on-site repair facility? 
  •  Also ask about their training facilities: do they have a classroom where they can teach your team about take-off, data prep and other software?  Do they have grounds with machines to demonstrate and teach you about machine control and other field systems?
  •  A good dealer will have all the skills to support you on staff – ranging from machine technicians to surveyors and civil engineers, from software and data prep experts to IT and communications specialists.
  •  Finally, keep in mind that you are looking for a long-term partnership, so make sure you look for signs of overall business health. You run a business as well, so you know what to look for: clean, up-to-date vehicles and tools, professional facilities with the space and equipment that are needed. And most importantly, well-trained, happy, motivated staff.

The relationship with a dealer really is a partnership. Make the right decision and they can guide you through the transition you’ll be making to modern operations, providing a comprehensive and tailored value-add solution for you no matter how large or small your operation.

You can read many stories about why and how contractors made the decision to implement technology, and the role their dealer has played, at

About the Author

Johan Smet

Johan Smet is Director of Technology Consulting and Services for Trimble’s Heavy Civil Construction Division. He joined Trimble in 2004 as Director for the Construction Division. Johan holds an Engineering degree from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.