As precision farming equipment has become more sophisticated, so too has the dealer’s approach to selling and serving the customers who buy it. For the first time, the 2012 Farm Equipment Dealer Business Outlook & Trends survey asked dealers if they would hiring precision farming specialists by the end of the year. Of the dealers who responded, nearly 20% said they would.
Precision Farming Dealer’s editors then went a step further. We contacted the dealers who said they’d be hiring this year and asked them four questions.
In this issue, we share the feedback from Mark Foster, ag division manager for Birkey’s Farm Store, based in Bloomington, Ill. Birkey’s Farm Store was the focus of Farm Equipment magazine’s first “Dealership Minds” special coverage in 2011.
- Mark Foster, Birkey's Farm Store
Ag Division Manager
Birkey’s Farm Store
1. What did you see in your local market that showed the demand was there to add to your staff?
We have consistently grown this segment of our business over the past years. Thus the need to not only provide support but to continue to grow this business has dictated the need to add staff. Our goal is to provide specialists at every location who can sell and support this product under the guidance of two company precision farming specialists.
2. How are you integrating these precision farming specialist positions into your dealership’s organizational structure? To what managerial function will they report to?
They will work for the store manager, however they will interact a lot with the two corporate specialists listed above.
3. For the next 12 months, do you view the precision farming specialist role as support-only, or as a sales-generating position? Why?
We see this as both, however we like to have install and major support run through our service department for several reasons. One being that it can generate revenue whereas the specialist tends to work for free many times. So we see these individuals as sales generating and providing general support.
4. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as you’ve gone about the process of adding precision farming specialists?
We have hired these individuals over the years from various backgrounds and at the end of the day, experience, even if it is limited, is quite valuable.