Question: What types of continuing training/education does your dealership require in the area of precision farming and in which areas is training/education most lacking?
“Our employees attend training that our suppliers offer on an annual basis. Our staff works with management to determine what is needed. I know that we spend a lot of money on training, but in the precision farming world it pays dividends.
“If you have an employee out selling product and misrepresenting it, you as a manager are going to be cleaning up a lot of messes. We also require our staff to present at small group training or at our annual customer training with bigger groups. That keeps them on their toes, and also increases their credibility with the customer.
“On the customer level, we have clinics throughout the year to train customers who want to attend and learn about their products. We obviously don’t require them to attend, but we have good turnout.
“In the future, we will have more benefits to offer to the customers who attend our training. We will offer support packages that are tailored to the customer who wants to learn.
“Our biggest challenge is with the amount of different products we carry, it is hard for everyone to be an expert on everything. Everyone has their comfort levels. However, we do make a good team. If anyone of us is uncertain about something, there is most likely someone else in our group who has the answer.”
— Derek Strunk,
Altorfer Ag Products,
“We have to meet the training requirements that CNH has set to keep our AFS certified dealer status. This is continued training on a yearly basis. There are also requirements for training on the products that CNH sells and classes are held for the sales side of precision products.
“The dealership I work for has always been proactive when it comes to training. If there is a class on new products we need to take they always try to get us the training we need. “The biggest challenge with training is that new products get released so fast, they are out and being used before training on them is set up, or there is such a demand for the class that it is hard to get into one.”
— Jason Pennycook,
Johnson Tractor Inc.,
“I work primarily on the agronomic side of the business. I accumulate all of the continuing education required for my CCA as well as my crop consultant’s license. I also complete the online training required by John Deere for the technology we service.
“Where I am weakest is the actual capabilities and use of the various hardware I encounter to implement our programs. This is a problem to correct over the winter and a personal goal.”
— Andy Moore,
“What we are finding is the lack of training in the auto-guidance field for the new and improved systems. We are seeing the systems changing every year almost faster than the training we receive.
“I notice that the training is getting harder and it’s harder to find people who are well educated in all the areas. We have people who are trained in one specific area, but not in all the areas.
“When it comes to training we have to be on top of our game and almost ahead of the product just to keep our customers happy. This is not only affecting our service, but our sales and parts departments as well.
“What I have found is Case IH has started to make changes to improve the training quality and to also increase the quantity of the precision farming training. With this improvement, we are striving to give our customers the best that we can as quick as we can, as fast as the training will allow.
“I see a great future in the field of precision farming and the demand for it. The need for this grows every year.”
— Kevin Brandics,
Hi-Way Service Ltd.,
“First and foremost, all of our dealership personnel need yearly training in which we cover the newest precision farming equipment as well as trends. This is needed because we feel selling precision farming equipment should not just be the responsibility of one or two individuals in the organization. We aim to have all our personnel have a basic understanding of what precision farming is and how it can benefit our customers.
“Second, any service technicians who work on the equipment must attend technical training on a yearly basis to further expand their knowledge. With new techs, we start them at a basic class and then get them experience in the field before we send them to more advanced classes so they know what to ask and what they need to learn.
“From there, we have a program laid out that we try to get them into over a 2 year span to fully cover all the different products we sell and support with our precision farming business.”
“The biggest area where training is lacking is the technical side of new precision products and understanding proper data management. Whenever a manufacture rolls out a new product, they are quick to have sales classes on the features of the product, but they generally are 1-2 years behind on the technical training for the new product. This typically has a direct effect on how many new units we can sell.
“Data management is a piece of precision farming that always gets forgotten about and what we’ve found is that our personnel don’t have a full understanding of the whole precision farming process and data management is forgotten about when talking with customers.
“Many of our customers have built up trust and faith with our technicians and they always ask the technicians what things they should be investing their money in and if it will actually benefit business. In our situation, most of our technicians fail to ever talk about proper data management just because it is a piece of the business they themselves never touch, and they never get a chance to fully understand it. As we move forward, we are trying to get our techs to see the whole precision farming process from the field to the computer.”
— Nick Frautschy,
Ritchie Implement Inc.,