With the weather set to improve in the coming days, the workload for farmers and contractors will increase immensely. This will have a knock-on effect on farmer interaction with machinery dealerships.
We spoke to representatives from the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA) and The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) who have recently offered advice to members about how to operate in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is advised that sales of machinery parts should be handled by taking orders via email or by phone, with payment made by card over the phone and parts to be left out, ready for collection. If receiving payment over the phone, make sure to get the delivery docket signed.
The FTMTA is advising that all service or maintenance works should be moved to dealer premises, and should not take place at customers yards.
The body is advising its members to cease all sales visits to customers. Likewise, supplier reps should be told not to visit and that business should be carried out by phone or email. Any delivery drivers should not be allowed indoors. Dockets can be signed outdoors and all such interactions should be kept brief.
The FTMTA added that in the case of businesses with more than one site, the site personnel and management should not move between sites. By keeping the sites isolated from each other it may allow other sites to continue if one site has to close due to a confirmed case.
Where possible, all contact with farmers should be eliminated. If in doubt, jobs should be discussed/checked with the farmer over the phone. If encountering others, a minimum of two metres should be kept between each other. Coughing or sneezing should be done into your elbow or into a tissue.
No passengers should be allowed inside the cabin at any time. It is a good idea to carry enough food/fluids for the day so that deli/restaurant stops are not necessary. It is not a good idea to enter a customer’s home for dinner.
At the start and end of each day it is recommended that the interior of the tractor cab should be sprayed with a disinfectant or wiped with antibacterial wipes, likewise for door handles, steering wheels and all controls.
A box of disposable gloves should be carried on board; these should be used while opening and closing gates. A fresh set of clothes/overalls should be worn each day, with disposable overalls being a good option also.