What do you do when someone in the company retires? What if they quit or are fired? What about when they are on vacation?

When a position is left open in a dealership, someone needs to be able to step into the role and do so as smoothly as possible. This is why succession planning is important to precision dealerships, especially single-store or independent dealerships.     

Succession planning is about knowing the next steps and having a plan in place in case someone with the company leaves either permanently or temporarily. This is not as simple as having just anyone take over in a position. The right person for the job needs to be found.

The first step in succession planning is to figure out what kind of people you are targeting. The recruiting process as a whole is difficult for dealers. Ideally, dealers would prefer to stick with people more local to the dealership because they are less likely to leave down the line. However, people like this are hard to find.

Many people coming into the dealerships are coming from the city or straight out of school. While those from the city are easier to find and hire, they are less likely to stay long-term if the dealership is not local.

Some dealers believe it may be good to let people work at the dealership part-time or on a contract basis. This would allow for both parties to see if the employee fits without spending excessive time and money to find out it does not work.

If there is already someone within the dealership that seems to be an ideal candidate, it is about moving them up in the best way possible. Doing so helps in creating a strong succession plan and in preventing employees from burning out.

The best candidates to take over a position have a go-getter attitude and are passionate about the work. “That’s [passion] the one thing you cannot really teach,” says Ken Larsen with Vetter Equipment. “You can go to school for a lot of things, but you can’t teach that.”

It’s important to remember that everyone has to like who they work with and there should be clearly defined goals and responsibilities for employees. Succession planning is like a training program and it takes an average of three years to be effective in a precision ag role.

“You just have to see how it turns out,” says one dealer. “It all depends on the person.”         

Succession planning ensures that there is someone capable of taking over a position that has been left vacant. Having a plan in place will help the dealership to continue running smoothly and provide a sense of security for employees.

It doesn’t matter if you are in the precision side or another part of the ag industry; you need a plan in place.