It takes a while for new precision ag specialists to really earn their keep around a dealership. Depending on the scenario, it could easily be 6 months before a dealership begins getting value out of a new precision employee, and up to 5 years before that “new” precision specialist is a master of their craft.
During the 2021 Precision Farming Dealership Summit, precision farming managers shared their tips for how new precision specialists can put themselves on a path to growth and success.
According to Karl Huebner, Integrated Solutions manager with Hutson Inc., in Murray, Ky., that means knowing when to reach out to those with more experience for advice. Taking that initiative and showing a willingness to develop and grow in the role is a mark of good things to come for an employee.
“It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to recreate the wheel every single time, especially when there are other people doing a lot better than you,” he says from his experience with the 13-store John Deere dealer. “It’s humbling yourself and getting on the phone and asking if there’s a better way to do something.”
Staying engaged requires due diligence, commitment and discipline, particularly in the precision ag industry, where so many changes revolve around technology.
“Someone who’s disciplined enough to stay engaged and learn what’s coming, capture and vision and see what’s going on so they can instruct their accounts or shop technicians to pay attention to certain things that will matter in a year is someone who will be successful,” Huebner says. “A lot of what we’re doing [as managers] is maturing people in their roles to try to mainstream them and push technology through our organization.”
Staying engaged and rolling with a steep learning curve is another asset, says Arthur Etheridge, Integrated Solutions manager with Shoppa’s Farm Supply in El Campo, Texas.
“Today, there are 5 of us in my department, but 9 years ago, it was just me,” Etheridge says of the precision experience at the 8-store Deere dealership. “I was on the job a total of one week when the first mandatory update came out on all our receivers and I was thrown to the wolves. I try to teach the guys coming on that I don’t expect them to have all the answers.”
Etheridge acknowledges that it’s important to know where to look for answers.
“Learn from others who are in your position and realize that you don’t have all the answers,” adds Phil Moskal, Integrated Solutions manager with Mid-State Equipment in Watertown, Wis. “You can learn from a vast array of people, no matter where they’re from.”
Another perspective is to remember that precision specialists deal with every single customer a dealership touches, says Moskal, who works with 6 stores at the John Deere dealer.
“Our department doesn’t have our own specific customers, but we deal with customers from all aspects of management, from internal customers, parts, sales, service, external customers, etc.,” Moskal says. “Setting those expectations is really important.”