Mark Campanella, Service Manager, Bakersfield
Years with Organization: 6 Has been involved in servicing equipment for the last 30 years. Spent time working on heavy construction equipment for Caterpillar before opening and operating his own field service business for 15 years prior to joining Kern Machinery in 2009.
Role: “I have a dual role. I handle the Bakersfield field service team for the southern and eastern parts of our AOR. I’m also the service manager for the Bakersfield store, so if it has to do with service anywhere in my area of responsibility, I’m the first person customers call.”
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Mark Campanella, the service manager for Kern Machinery’s Bakersfield, Calif., store, was originally brought into the dealership in 2009 to help the company “revamp” its field service program. Before joining Kern Machinery, Campanella had owned and operated his own field service business for construction equipment in southern California for 15 years.
As the construction equipment business declined in his area and Campanella’s clientele began moving north, he happened to pass by Kern Machinery on his drive home one afternoon. Out of curiosity about how field service was handled in a farm equipment dealership setting, Campanella stopped in and asked for a tour. He left his business card and 3 days later the dealership made him an offer.
“My goal when they had me take over the field service program was to get service response time to under 24 hours,” he recalls. “When I started, they were out 3 or 4 days. Over the last 4 years we’ve been able to meet our goal and maintain that response time and bring our customer support up to the next level.”
Increasing the field service team’s productivity required Campanella to make a few changes. “The first step was providing a direct response to all service requests. I made myself available to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and assured customers that just one call to me is all they needed to get a technician out to their equipment,” he says.
“After establishing that process, we had to make sure we provided a consistent response to give the program credibility. This required leadership on my part to create a team environment and make everyone accountable for working together to quickly serve the customers’ needs,” Campanella continues.
Before Campanella began working with the Kern field service team, he says the five field service technicians were assigned work orders, but there wasn’t active communication to see how the jobs were progressing or to find out when each technician finished a job and could move on to the next work order.
“We strive to make our longest response time other dealers’ fastest response…”
“We removed any uncertainty about which technician was where and working on what by constantly communicating with the team and encouraging them to communicate with each other. I talk to each field service technician almost hourly under our current system,” he says.
After the team’s success with the field service changes, Campanella eventually added the role of service manager for the Bakersfield store to his duties. However, he says managing the field service team and managing the in-shop service team are two very different operations.
“Working in the field is a whole different animal than working in the shop,” he says. “The field service team is very tightknit and must constantly work together and bounce ideas off each other. We have to turn out our work at a very fast pace.”
Managing, in essence, two separate roles at once isn’t a challenge for Campanella, though. He’s used to it. But he does say it takes a great deal of organization.
“To be honest, managing the field service team alone didn’t involve enough of my time. I knew I was capable of more and that’s why I wanted to take on the Bakersfield service manager role,” Campanella explains. “The shop allows me to complement the field response and I can bring work into the shop as needed. But I don’t do this alone. I have a capable team supporting me.”
Four staff members work alongside Campanella to keep the service department running smoothly. Tami Schweikart handles work orders, payroll and payables processing. Lili Muro processes warranty claims and is also a training coordinator for all of Kern Machinery’s locations. Monica Yescas provides support for the department’s service administration needs, including warranty support. Gary Weichelt is the Bakersfield service shop supervisor. He works directly with customers on quoting and work progress, supervises the shop technicians and assigns work orders.
It takes this team of cross-trained employees working together to keep the gears spinning in the service department at Kern Machinery. When one employee needs to be away from the office, the structure is designed so there is always someone available who has already been trained on those duties.
Still, Campanella is the first one into the shop in the morning and usually the last one to leave at night. “I make sure I’m aware of what’s going on and I’m in contact with Gary concerning the shop techs and am in constant contact with the field service techs,” he says.
Teamwork & Communication
Campanella is not a passive service manager. He knows who’s doing what when and how long it will take them.
Mark Campanella, service manager for the Bakersfield, Calif., location of Kern Machinery, explains how he strives to lead by example in the service department. This video is part of the Dealership Minds Video Series, brought to you by Charter Software.
“I keep track of the whole department’s schedule. I know who’s where and what they’re doing. I know who I can be flexible with and who can handle making a change,” he says. “The workflow is in my head, and I’m constantly updating.”
Managing the department’s schedule means staying in communication with the team. While this applies to the shop at the dealership, Campanella says it becomes even more crucial when working with the field service technicians.
“I’m in constant contact with my teams all day long. The field service technicians call me when they’re done with a job and keep me updated on their status. We all have smartphones and laptops and we utilize everything from email to texting and telephone calls. I wear an ear piece to take calls because I also need my hands to write or look things up on the computer,” he says.
To make sure each field service technician knows exactly what the gameplan for the day is and where everyone needs to be, Campanella holds morning meetings daily before the field service technicians hit the road for the day.
“We lay out our days every morning. We talk about what jobs need to get done and who might need help throughout the day,” he says. “We don’t have field technicians who are working on the same job for 4 or 5 days. Our customers have a lot riding on their equipment working when they need it. Of course, everyone wants everything done right now and that’s no joke. But our track record gives customers the confidence that we will be there for them and allows me to balance their needs with other growers in peak demand times.”
In situations when Campanella has to be away from the shop for a day or two, he says Gary Weichelt, the Bakersfield shop supervisor, is ready and prepared to step up and take on Campanella’s duties. This, again, comes back to having a cross-trained team who can support each other when someone needs to be away. For the field service team, in Campanella’s absence, service requests are forwarded to one or all of the team members from the office team. This works because the field service team is already practiced at staying in contact with each other and is able to collaborate and develop a schedule for the day.
“There’s no substitute for experience in this business…”
Campanella says customers’ number one expectation of the service department is that work will be done as quickly as possible, and the key to keeping employees motivated during long hours of hard work is leadership.
“I’ve done everything the technicians are doing, so I’m not one of those bosses who directs people around without understanding and having respect for their work,” he says. “Keeping everyone motivated and working together comes from having the drive to get the work done and portraying that to everyone around me. We’re here to do a job and we try to get as much done as we can every single day. I find motivation can be contagious.
“I value my weekends just as much as the technicians, which is why we try to do an efficient job during normal work hours whenever possible. There are those times when we have to stick it in high gear and work on the weekends, but it comes with the territory. If you want an 8-5 job, this isn’t the job for you,” Campanella says.
“I don’t like our team dealing with yesterday’s business,” Campanella says. “I prefer we take care of everything on the front side and get the job done right the first time.”
This is the way Campanella runs the service department; get it done right and get it done fast. While his method has made the Bakersfield service department one of the busiest in the company, he says it has also increased customer satisfaction.
“You have to be organized and know what’s going on. You have to know your people and they have to know their jobs and want to do the work,” Campanella says. “When you work for me, you do your job. If you can’t do your job, we are going to have a problem because I’m not going to have someone else do your job for you. We will help you get the job done, but we won’t do it for you.
“I don’t want us to be dealing with old business because then you can’t focus on new business. Over the years, this has proven to be successful because it opens the door for opportunities, but if you’re constantly behind, you can’t even entertain taking on new business. We don’t turn down work. We can handle anything that’s thrown at us pretty much any time. We strive to make our longest response time other dealers’ fastest response.”
Campanella talks about the dealership's efforts to look outside the box to service a diverse product offering. This video is part of the Dealership Minds Video Series, brought to you by Charter Software.
To accomplish this fast response time and efficient and effective workflow, Campanella says it’s all about organization and keeping everything documented.
“I’m really big on documentation,” he says. “In addition to workflow in our business system we keep paper trails. We don’t leave many loopholes. We attach customer and internal emails and paperwork to work order forms just in case a month down the road someone asks a question about the job. We try to eliminate problems before they become problems.”
Each work order and it’s corresponding paperwork is filed in a job folder, which Kern Machinery refers to internally as a job jacket, with the idea that when the job is done, everything having to do with the job should be in the job folder, kept neatly together where it can easily be found again in the future.
“This way, if a customer calls me up and questions a bill, I’m able to review the account online and also grab the job jacket and look through the notes to see why we did something the way we did. We include everything from the time the technician received the call for the job, to the time it took for us to respond, to the work that was done and who authorized the work,” Campanella says. “We can’t be efficient if we have loose ends with the volume of work we do everyday.”
Campanella also edits and reviews each work order that comes across his desk. He looks for how the package was put together, whether the job is warranty work and makes sure everything is documented correctly. He also final edits the work order invoices for grammar so they are presentable and leave a good impression of the dealership when the invoices go to the customers.
After Campanella looks over the work order and draft invoice, he sends it to his office team to have the corrections made. After corrections are made, he looks it over again to double check the invoice before signing off.
“We can go through 500-600 work orders a month. There are different ways that this process could be done and we’ve talked about trying to fully computerize the system, but this system works for me.”
Charlie Moe, corporate aftermarket manager with Kern Machinery of Bakersfield, Calif., talks about how the John Deere Ag Tech Program convinced him to invest some time in seeking out opportunities to go out to area high schools to speak to juniors and seniors about careers in the ag industry. This video is part of the Dealership Minds Video Series, brought to you by Charter Software.
As Kern Machinery integrates its new Charter Aspen dealership management software throughout the dealership, Campanella says the service department is using a hybrid system that combines the new business system with their traditional pen and paper record keeping.
“Everything we do ultimately ends up in the business system for processing and documentation, but I don’t think it’s to the level yet where we feel comfortable completely replacing the pen and paper entirely,” he says. “I prefer to slowly integrate the technology.”
At the end of the day, Campanella knows they’ve been successful based on their positive numbers and customer feedback, though he says that the best way to tell you have a happy customer is when you don’t hear back from them at all.
“A happy customer got what he asked for, and is moving on with his business. We don’t hear back from them,” he says. “Many of our customers are corporate farmers with 100 plus tractors. Our customers come to Kern Machinery to get their machines fixed fast and then get back to work.”
With California’s diverse crops and subsequent equipment needs, Campanella says nothing can replace experience in the service department.
“Technicians need to be prepared to work on everything,” he says. “You can’t have a John Deere technician who is only comfortable working on John Deere equipment. We get equipment in this shop that we don’t carry, but we will still work on it. There’s no substitute for experience in this business.”
For inexperienced technicians, Campanella says he gives them jobs he knows they can handle and challenges them with a new project every once in a while.
“I’m a firm believer that it takes 5-10 years to grow a technician. You can’t shortcut that,” he says. “You have to build their competency and train them, and in order to do that you have to have good management in place and experienced technicians to mentor them. You have to invest in the new technicians. For me, you get a lot more bang for your buck by training the employees in-house, but it’s a huge investment.”