To respond to the precision needs of customers during the busy planting season, Luke Bennett, AMS manager of Oregon Trail Equipment in Beatrice, Neb., delegates some of the tasks to sales and equipment service staff.
When Precision Farming Dealer caught up with Luke Bennett, AMS manager of Oregon Trail Equipment in Beatrice, Neb., in mid-May, he was embroiled in a drawn out, busy planting season.
“Most years, we’re slammed for maybe 5 weeks, but this year we’ve been going nonstop for almost 8, due to heavy rains,” says Bennett.
To lighten his load, Bennett tries to delegate tasks to service techs and capable sales staff. Meeting customers’ needs is the practical upshot of this strategy, but there are other advantages to a close collaborative precision relationship between a dealership’s other departments.
1. Strengthen the Talent Pool
Bennett says Oregon Trail often sends service techs to specific precision farming trainings, such as the AMS courses offered though John Deere University, so they can get on the same page with the specialists.
They also provide internal precision training, taking service techs out for planter setups and going over things when it’s not too busy, Bennett says. This approach can also make hiring from within much easier.
“It’s hard to find good precision talent, and promoting from within can be a great way to go,” says Bennett. “Employees who already have their feet wet can jump right in. If we hired someone with a technology background who doesn’t know what they’re getting into, we could waste 6 months training only to have them head for the hills during the busy season.”
2. Look for Added Efficiency
With a flexible staff, a service tech who is going out to service a tractor or implement, may also be able to take care of a precision hardware problem on the same trip.
“If we get a call and it’s something more involved than simple AMS, like chasing wires and more involved equipment repairs, I’ll send it to our service techs,” says Bennett. “That way we don’t spend 8 hours out there when service can take care of something like that in 2 hours while also completing the AMS repair.”
Economizing in this way makes the best of both departments’ time, which is at a premium during the busy season.
3. Capitalize on Sales Face Time
Having a sales member with a strong AMS background provides some value-added face time. What better time is there to discuss upgrades while servicing existing hardware?
“One of the salespeople and I stay really busy during the spring with setting up planters, but it’s a good opportunity for him to get a little one-on-one interaction with customers,” Bennett says.
4. Improve Retention
Burnout is often a word that gets exercise among precision specialists, but staff flexibility can help minimize the potential.
“We’ve had guys complain about burnout,” says Bennett. “I get it, the phone is ringing off the hook and there is a million things to get done — there is only so much a guy can take. Sharing the work gives everyone a chance to catch their breath.”
In a talent pool that dries up quickly, keeping good precision specialists from throwing in the towel will pay off in the long run.