Assessing the performance and production of a precision farming team can take into account several factors. Customer service and communication skills are less quantifiable than sales volume and service hours billed.
Adding to the evaluation are expectations based on experience. Dealers acknowledge that new precision specialists are often a 3-year investment before they consistently become profitable employees.
Turnover is expensive, says Nick Rust, precision ag coordinator with H&R Agri-Power in Hopkinsville, Ky. With nearly a decade of precision specialist experience, his approach to retention is a mix of mentoring and managing.
Overseeing an 11-person precision team, including 5 with less than 1 year of experience, Rust says putting ongoing training is essential to advancing specialists to the point of being profitable for the dealership.
“I want retention. I want to keep people. Because if I’m not constantly training, what we can focus on is what matters and ultimately, it’s making more money. We’re in the sales business. Turnover costs us a lot of money. Granted, a 3- or 4-year-old, 3 or 4 veteran specialists is going to cost you twice as much as what the college kid does but they’re going to be producing.”
Rust adds that while the dealership takes into account intangibles, gross contribution is the primary metric on which precision specialists are ultimately measured.