Equipment is getting more and more technically advanced all the time. And while new machines continue to make tasks easier for operators, finding technicians with the skills to service them has become a challenge.

Like the automotive industry, the turf equipment industry is facing a technician shortage. Many longtime technicians are retiring, and good technical school programs for new technicians are hard to find. As a result, there are fewer qualified candidates to fill these jobs.

The market has become extremely competitive, especially when it comes to hiring technicians with the knowhow to fix models with the latest features like electronic engine controls, onboard computers, diagnostic software and GPS systems. That’s why many Toro distributors are offering alternative solutions. Here are a few of the options available from distributors and Toro:

On-Site Distributor Training
Distributors like Turf Equipment and Supply Company in Jessup, Maryland, offer training classes on a range of general topics during the winter season. Their program, called Turf Equipment University®, offers classes in several different locations throughout the area to minimize travel time for participants. They also have mobile trainers who go out to customer locations and train technicians on everything from sharpening reels to calibrating sprayers.

Service Contracts
Service contracts are another solution many Toro distributors offer. Depending on the agreement, these contracts may provide all preventive maintenance on a machine (including labor, transportation, parts and fluids) for a single annual fee. Distributor technicians may even come to the customer’s location to do the service.

Rent a Technician
Even if you don’t purchase a full service contract, you can lean on your distributor for service when you need it. Many distributors offer “rent-a-tech” services where mobile technicians come to you, rather than having to transport your machine to the shop.

Distributors are a good option to fill your service gaps, since their own technicians need to stay up to date on the latest models and techniques. Turf Equipment and Supply Company does monthly in-house training sessions where technicians train each other to ensure consistency. They also send team members to Toro U, a training session at The Toro Company headquarters.

Support Via Smartphone
When you call your local Toro distributor for support, there’s a new resource they may use to diagnose and solve equipment issues. Toro distributor technicians now have the ability to use video collaboration tools such as Skype, FaceTime and OnSight to work directly with Toro’s Technical Assistance Center (TAC) team. For distributors with Skype/FaceTime capabilities, this is one more tool to help with advaned service and repair.

Online Manuals
Free service manuals are always available online to help your technicians with basic questions and services. Manuals for current production models are available here, along with links to other resources.

Equipment Selection
Although equipment is getting more advanced, it’s worth taking a close look at the maintenance requirements of any machines you are considering for purchase. Are common service components easy to access? Are there any features that simplify or streamline service?

As a manufacturer, Toro is always mindful of the need for equipment that not only improves productivity but also reduces maintenance costs. Our research and development team makes every effort to balance both, designing products that require less maintenance to reduce the overall cost of ownership.

If you’re looking for solutions to fill your own service gaps, your local Toro distributor is a great place to start. Ask if they offer technical training classes, service contracts, rent-a-technician programs or other service options. Your distributor is your partner, so use them as a resource for solutions to your challenges.