One of the biggest barriers for precision growth is the ability to attract and retain quality personnel. Once dealerships have those employees in place, keeping them is imperative to
Finding talented precision specialists remains a challenge for dealers, from where to look to how to avoid burning out your best talent. The most successful dealerships today, are proactively scouting for their next precision hire and equipping them with the tools to succeed.
Data from the seventh annual Precision Farming Dealer Benchmark Study shows that 78% of dealers view employee training as the most important area of internal investment during the next 5 years to growth precision business, with another 63% noting additional staff as an essential piece of that puzzle.
So how can dealers meet those expectations? During a dealer-to-dealer panel discussion at the 2020 Precision Farming Dealer Summit on Jan. 6-7, hear 3 precision managers share their in-the-trenches experience shaping a precision department through structured training, accountability and advancement opportunities.
Speakers for this panel include:
Scott Meldrum, Integrated Solutions Manager, Van Wall Equipment (2016 Dealership of the Year) 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 19 ag store dealer group in Iowa. Adding 10 stores since 2015 has helped grow precision revenues to nearly $1.7 million, but also required a reevaluation of staffing standards and performance expectations, to maintain a healthy internal culture.
Meldrum outlines his approach to onboarding, education and creating advancement opportunities to include multi-layered, formal and informal training.
Lance Larsen, precision ag coordinator, Agtegra in Bath, S.D. (2014 Most Valuable Dealership) Growth is an objective for any precision farming business, but when it involves an overhaul and rapid expansion of staff, facilities and services, the short-term result can strain even the most accomplished teams. Such was the case for Agtegra, a 5,500-member co-op in South Dakota, which increased its precision-specific staff from 5 to 18 employees from 2014-19, along with nearly doubling hardware revenue. The growth coincided with a rebranding of its ag technology department, now known as the Innovation Center.
As the longest-tenured member of the precision team, Larsen has been on the frontlines of training and staff development since he joined the organization in 2011, and leads the precision internship program.
Larsen details how he evaluates prospective hires, starting with a detailed interview to a structured orientation that reveal a candidate’s passion for precision and the likelihood of them being a long-term employee.
Jeff Allison, precision farming manager, PrairieLand Partners, McPherson, Kan. (2014 Dealership of the Year) Dealerships are increasingly accustomed to being involved in an acquisition or merger as the industry continues to see consolidation. In less than a year, Allison has been on both sides of the experience. After 10 years with a local 4-store dealership, he joined PrairieLand after a merger in 2018 and in 2019, the dealership acquired 2 more stores. The now 15-store dealership nearly doubled the size of its precision farming team, which has created both expansion opportunities and logistical challenges.
Allison shares his experience-based do’s and don’ts for successfully merging precision cultures, adapting to established expectations and why the first 30 days is critical to maintaining uninterrupted customer service.
Co-located with the 28th Annual National No-Tillage Conference, the 2020 Summit will be held Jan. 6-7 at the historic Union Station Hotel in St. Louis. Among the Title Sponsors making the learning and networking opportunities possible for dealers are Ag Express Electronics, Copperhead Ag, DigiFarm VBN, Laforge Systems, RealmFive, Reichhardt Electronic Innovations, Topcon Agriculture and Yetter Farm Equipment.
For more information and to register for the Summit click here. We’ll see you in St. Louis!