Maintaining a solid foundation of employees in a precision farming business is a constant challenge for many dealers — as competition, miscommunication and burnout can erode the stability of a department.
Building a profitable and productive precision farming team starts with defined expectations, realistic accountability standards and more than a “firefighting” mentality to service and support.
During a managerial-must dealer-to-dealer panel discussion at the 2017 Precision Farming Dealer Summit on Jan. 10, 3 precision farming managers will share diverse approaches, struggles and successes developing sustainable precision segments within their equipment dealerships.
Speakers for this panel include:
Heather Hill, Precision Farming Coordinator, H&R Agri-Power in Brownsville, Tenn. (2015 and 2016 Best-in-Class Dealership). Starting in 2014, the precision farming coordinator at H&R Agri-Power, she manages a team of 8 precision farming specialists throughout 13 locations in Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. To improve retention and performance, Hill implemented a structured and strategic approach to hiring, training and oversight of the precision farming department. This has helped increase contribution margin of the department from 1.2% to 7% in less than 3 years, along with an increase in sales volume per specialist from $163,000 to $231,000. Hill will discuss direct bottom line results, along with the challenges of overhauling the dealership’s game plan for setting expectations and accountability standards within the precision farming department.
Scott Meldrum, Integrated Solutions Manager, Van Wall Equipment in Perry, Iowa. Managing a diverse department of 11 Agricultural Management Solutions (AMS) specialists, 3 agronomists and 1 administrative specialist, Meldrum has more than 4 million acres of sales and service to oversee as Integrated Solutions Manager at Van Wall Equipment, a 16 ag store dealer group in Iowa. Adding 7 stores within a 6-month period in 2015 helped grow precision revenues to nearly $2 million, but also required a reevaluation of operational standards and expectations. Meldrum will share the value and challenges of a “servant leadership” management style, juggling performance evaluation with consequences and measurement of department goals.
Matt Eldridge, Director of Aftermarket Sales, Smith Implements, a 6-store dealership in Greenfield, Ind. Many dealerships have chosen to strengthen and grow precision farming as an standalone department. But Eldridge, helped develop a different blueprint for success. Acknowledging failure to meet customer needs, the dealership “blew up” its formal Integrated Solutions department, instead allocating its precision staff to sales, marketing and training roles to create a more collaborative and cohesive precision business. Eldridge will share how this approach has created new career paths, added profit potential, increased credibility with sales staff and differentiated itself from its competition
Co-located with the 25th Annual National No-Tillage Conference, the 2017 Summit will be held Jan. 9-10 at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. Among the Title Sponsors making the learning and networking opportunities possible for dealers are CDK Global, Charter Software Inc., Equip IQ, Farmers Edge, Laforge Systems, Montag Manufacturing, MZB, Reichhardt, Western Equipment Dealers Assn. and Yetter Farm Equipment.
View the complete 8 page program here. For more information and to register for the Summit click here or visit www.PrecisionSummit.com. Stay tuned for more updates and speaker announcements. We’ll see you in St. Louis!