There were plenty of the combines still roaming the fields in Indiana and Ohio during my swing through the two states last week visiting several precision farming dealers.
So it was no surprise that at nearly every stop I made the technology specialists had one thing on the top of their minds — hiring more help.
While precision farming dealers say they are meeting the service demands of their customers this fall, fixing bad switches on yield monitors or making moisture sensor adjustments, they are also feeling the effects of not only a busy season, but of an arduous — albeit prosperous — year.
Most precision specialists I spoke with said it was a strong year for sales, but a challenging one for service.
“You can get burnout,” one precision farming dealer in Indiana told me. Another technology specialist who is the primary precision salesperson for a multi- store Case IH dealership in Ohio acknowledges the time he spends handling service calls now can limit the time he has to demonstrate and sell the precision products carried by the dealership.
That is a dangerous position to be in for dealerships trying to keep pace with increased customer demand.
“We need more people to be able to go to bat for each other,” the Ohio precision farming dealer says.
That dealership is in the process of preparing more staff to step up to the plate, with five in-house mechanics training to become certified precision farming specialists by spring.
The Ohio dealership is not alone in its addition of precision personnel, and it appears that more farm equipment dealers plan to bolster their precision farming operations by adding staff next year.
In the 2013 Dealer Business Outlook & Trends Farm Equipment Forecast from Ag Equipment Intelligence, one of our sister publications here at Lessiter Publications, the percentage of dealers for the top three mainline suppliers planning to hire precision farming specialists next year is up an average of 14% over 2012.
According to the special report issued to subscribers last week, 54.5% of John Deere farm equipment dealer respondents plan to add precision farming specialist staff next year, compared to 43.1% in 2012.
The largest percentage increase came from AGCO dealers with 36.8% of respondents forecasting additional precision farming specialist hires next year, compared to 19.5% in 2012.
Case IH dealers were close behind in their outlook for needing additional precision personnel, with 42.3% predicting a hiring increase next year, compared to 27.5% in 2012.
But filling those positions could be easier said than done, and dealers have agonized over finding qualified people for some time.
As one precision farming dealer in Ohio told me, “You don’t get good at this stuff overnight and it will frustrate you.”
For precision farming dealers spread increasingly thin, the frustration is mounting, which is why equipment dealers need to make good on their pledge to hire and train more help, in order to keep customers happy.