How dealers view future revenue opportunities is evolving, but their top priority for where they plan to invest in precision growth remains the same — employees.
Nearly three-quarters of dealers responding to the 2018 Precision Farming Dealer Benchmark study say employee training is their most important area of emphasis to build precision revenue.
But staff recruitment, development and retention are also among the greatest challenges, with precision specialists averaging less than 2 years of employment at a dealership.
During a dealer-to-dealer panel discussion at the 2019 Precision Farming Dealer Summit on Jan. 7-8, you will hear 3 precision farming managers share their proven methods and cautionary advice for creating a stable precision team, to include incentives for retention, how to mentor new employees and creating a culture of advancement.
Speakers for this panel include:
Joe Sinkula, Integrated Solutions manager, Riesterer & Schnell in Pulaski, Wis.
Putting employees in the right roles can go a long way toward retaining them. For Sinkula, who manages the 5-person integrated solutions team across 12 ag locations in Wisconsin, this includes prioritizing responsibilities and specialization to emphasize employee strengths and minimize turnover.
This approach has helped the dealership grow its total precision revenue by 300% during the last 3 years, and Sinkula says, “It’s about allowing our specialists to do what they do best, whether it’s sales, service or data management. Turnover is a part of this business, but we must have reliable, responsive coverage for our customers.”
Sinkula details ways the dealership has navigated transition within its precision department, including the creation of a precision farming coordinator position to be the organizational point person and reduce the risk of burnout.
Arik Witker, precision farming manager, Redline Equipment in Gas City, Ind.
Leadership is a managerial quality that employees respond to and often crave. Having spent the last 17 years in the National Guard, including 14 leading anywhere from 2 to 80 soldiers, Witker has a refined sense of what it takes to encourage the best performance out of someone — and under pressure. Applying standards of accountability and incentivizing success have been successful approaches Witker has adapted to the 5-person precision team across Redline Equipment’s 11 ag stores in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.
“The business we’re in is relationship-driven and precision staffs are often very young,” he says. “It’s about creating a culture of success, providing those ‘feel-good wins’ and a pathway to success. That’s how you retain employees today.”
Witker shares his strategy for establishing a roadmap of advancement, by setting realistic — yet challenging — expectations for precision employees, along with proven ways to keep young specialists engaged and invested in the success of the business.
Seth Conway, precision product manager, Monroe Tractor in Henrietta, N.Y.
Training is an essential part of the progression of precision farming specialists, but it’s only part of the equation capturing the full potential of employees.
Professional development — on a macro and micro scale — within a dealership through simple steps can go a long way toward retention. Leading a team of 6 precision specialists at 7 ag locations, Conway is responsible for advancing precision employees through a company-created developmental plan from on-boarding, to compensation to putting future goals down on paper.
“One of the philosophies of our employee development plan is to explain to new hires how the job they have can lead to the next position in the company and then another one after that,” Conway says. “Specialists respond to that approach, especially when they understand they can grow with the company.”
Conway shares the dealership’s approach for sustaining its 15% average annual precision revenue growth by creating a pipeline of talent, putting employees on a progressive path and with why it’s worth waiting at least a year to put “hard money” into a new precision hire.
3 Things You Will Learn From this Session
- The value of communicating a direct pathway to advancement for precision staff
- How to transition and retain young, inexperienced employees into “rock star” specialists
- How depth and versatility within a precision department can compensate for losing an employee
Co-located with the 27th Annual National No-Tillage Conference, the 2019 Precision Farming Dealer Summit will be held Jan. 7-8 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. Among the Title Sponsors making the learning and networking opportunities possible for dealers are Charter Software Inc., DigiFarm VBN, Laforge Systems, Montag Mfg., Reichhardt, Topcon, AgDNA, Praxidyn, AeroVironment, Ag Leader, Precision Planting and Yetter Farm Equipment.
For more information and to register for the Precision Farming Dealer Summit click here or visit www.PrecisionSummit.com. Stay tuned for more updates and speaker announcements. We’ll see you in Indianapolis!