Technology training — both internal and external — can hold as much earning potential as it can headaches. But employee and customer training are essential investments for precision growth during the next 5 years, with more than 98% of dealers citing these areas as priorities in the 2017 Precision Farming Dealer Benchmark Study.
Technical competency can be improved through annual training requirements, but dealers must develop the “soft skills” of their precision staff in connecting with customers to provide practical, reputable education.
During a dealer-to-dealer panel discussion at the 2018 Precision Farming Dealer Summit on Jan. 9, you will hear 3 precision farming managers share their strategies and stumbling blocks to bridging the precision knowledge gap for both their staff and farm customers.
Speakers for this panel include:
Layne Richins, precision farming manager, Stotz Equipment in Casa Grande, Ariz. (2013 Farm Equipment Dealership of the Year). Rather than maintain a separate Integrated Solutions department, the 25-location Stotz Equipment, chose to run its precision business through the service department. Starting in 2013, Richins, divided his responsibilities between being service manager at the dealership’s Casa Grande, Ariz., location and the precision farming coordinator for all of Stotz’s stores. The job required a streamlined, yet comprehensive communication strategy, training structure and measurable metrics from the top down to meet customer and dealership expectations. Today, Richins focuses solely on management all of the dealership’s precision specialists at each location.
Richins shares his managerial roadmap, and how he and Stotz bridged the demanding dual roles. This includes balancing profitability and progressiveness through collaborative troubleshooting and delegating, and lessons learned on how to sidestep communication land mines that can cripple productivity.
Chris Finley, vice president parts & service, Mazergroup in Brandon, Manitoba. While technical education is an essential part of a precision department, collaborative training is an emphasis for Finley, who oversees everything from budgeting and marketing, to hiring and staff retention across the parts, service and precision departments. Since transitioning into his position nearly 3 years ago, Finley has worked to improve internal training methods throughout the dealership’s 14 ag stores in central Canada, specifically setting attainable benchmarks and standards for the 11-person precision department.
Finley shares the growing pains behind establishing a structured training system to deliver a comprehensive and comfortable experience for customers, and how the early returns are contributing to $2.5 million in annual hardware sales and a 30% increase in precision service revenue.
Cody Searle, ag technology manager, Agri-Service in Burley, Idaho. (2012, 2014, 2016 Farm Equipment Dealership of the Year Best in Class). Responsible for a 7-person precision staff covering 13 retail stores in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Utah, Searle understands the value of proactive training, rather than reactive learning. To generate $3 million in annual precision sales, 30% of which comes from service, meeting the expectation for timely, reliable service requires an “on call” mentality and a goal of leaving customers more informed and confident about their technology investments after every visit.
Searle talks through overcoming the “time factor” when delivering actionable precision training to both customers and staff, along with adopting a “quality without compromise” attitude to strengthen internal and external trust.
Co-located with the 26th Annual National No-Tillage Conference, the 2018 Summit will be held Jan. 8-9 at the Galt House. Among the Title Sponsors making the learning and networking opportunities possible for dealers are AgriSync, Charter Software Inc., DigiFarm VBN, e-Emphasys, Farmers Edge, HBS Systems, Laforge Systems, Montag Mfg., Reichhardt, Topcon, Trimble and Yetter Farm Equipment.