What recurring training issues do you face and how are you addressing them?
“My first thought on training is we all need training. The industry has been around for a long time, so there are people that know everything there is to know about current equipment and back to the really old stuff. There are the ones who have just started a position and know nothing about anything and then all the people in the middle. Mix that with sales, service, parts, financing, accounting, product support and everything else and training gets to be a pretty broad issue.”
— Gene Saville, Lamb & Webster, Springville, N.Y.
“The biggest thing with AGCO training is that it’s all in Hesston, Kan. We have tried to get them to do more localized training with no success. It’s fairly expensive to send men to Hesston for 4 or 5 days. With time and the money we spend on hotels and meals, it costs upward of $3,000-$4,000. Not to mention it takes the techs away from the store for a week. We usually hold out until we get that nasty message telling us we need to go to training. It may not be right, but that’s how we cope with it.”
— Jeff Suchomski, Suchomski Equipment, Pickneyville, Ill.
“Agri-Service has always had a very aggressive program to keep salespeople current on new equipment. I don’t see any problem with it, other than scheduling time for training away from our busy selling time.”
— Carl Judy, Agri-Service, Nyssa, Ore.
“We struggle to find the time to get our technicians trained during the busy spring planting and fall harvest times. What has been a great help is Case IH’s training team being flexible enough to host classes at our corporate training center in Archbold, Ohio. They hold a number of trainings all over the U.S., but many of the tech schools are held in Racine, Wis. Allowing us to host the training at our corporate office saves between 6-10 employees from driving out to Racine and they are able to collaborate with employees from our 6 locations as well as additional Case IH dealer employees from the tri-state area that are able to join the schooling at our office.”
— Jenae Lammers, Archbold Equipment, Archbold, Ohio
“Our employees have training on new products and are given constant refreshers on older material. My boss spends in excess of $60,000 per year on training. Our sales staff is completing a course that uses old school textbooks plus online training. We have different levels of sales training and we complete one level at a time. The agricultural sector is constantly changing and improving and we make sure that we are all up to date on the latest technology.”
— Donna Allen, Dan R Equipment, Kemptville, Ontario
“For the most part, training is not the issue. Finding competent technicians to train is the issue. We have been actively seeking a skilled technician for some time now, but it seems as though we are looking for a needle in a hay stack.”
— Jim Morse, Jim’s Equipment Repair, Campbell, N.Y.
“The biggest obstacle is finding time to send employees off to schools as we are busy throughout the year. Kubota is now offering ongoing training schools online to help alleviate this problem. Training is very important to us as it not only ensures the latest up-to-date techniques, but also determines our level status with both Stihl and Kubota.”
— Brandon Talaga, Armstrong Implements, Swift Current, Saskatchewan
“Too many training classes occur during harvest time and not enough are in Canada.”
— Drew Williamson, D&W Group, Jarvis, Ontario
“Too many suppliers require multiple trainings and we have limited technicians to go. We try to space the trainings out as best as we can, but our technicians could be gone constantly at training and not available to get their customer billing hours to justify the training.”
— James Sommer, Service Motor, Dale, Wis.
“One of our issues is training our management team. We are trying to do more self-training to keep our group engaged. Another issue is the amount of training our main line vendors require for dealer standards. We have not found a good way to deal with this at this time and it seems their thoughts of our needs and our actual needs are not lining up with each other.”
— Chris H. Baxla, Baxla Tractor Sales, Seaman, Ohio
“Our biggest training issues are getting everything met for dealer standards. Most vendors require certain training sessions during the year be attended by our techs. They have a set amount of required training hours. One company may have 60 hours and another 100. If these standards aren’t met, it may cost a percentage of warranty reimbursement or your parts cost may go up to another level of pricing. We get busy and sometimes forget to send a tech to a training session. It also amazes me how fast the industry makes changes and upgrades their equipment. For example, we send a tech to a baler clinic to learn about some changes or upgrades. In a few months, there have been more upgrades and more training is required. It seems impossible to keep everyone up to date on training. If companies could have a broader schedule and make trainings closer to the dealerships it would make life a lot easier.”
— Eric Roach, S&H Farm Supply, Joplin, Mo.
“The cost of training for service technicians is a big issue as manufacturers are requiring more and more training to be certified. I have 8 service technicians and it costs me a lot to send them to training between the travel expenses, course expenses and the loss of technicians in the shop. Birkey’s is good about sending technicians to schools and we make sure our guys are cross-trained on equipment. That benefits the shop and earns us the highest level on warranty paybacks.”
— Rick Abbadusky, Birkey’s Farm Store, Macomb, Ill.
“Getting enough details from training to aid in troubleshooting is our biggest challenge. Sometimes training focuses on set up and the basics. It is lacking the details that are needed for troubleshooting. The class sizes also are sometimes too large.”
— Jonathan Hofstetter, Lowe Young, Wooster, Ohio
“Sales and parts personnel are trained every time the OEMs introduce new equipment or new categories. Strategies to attract customers are done twice a year when we publish our flyer. We make sure that each person is on top of the OEM units and knows what is in stock and what we consider the ‘sweet spots’ of each category (residential, large acreage home owner and commercial). We send staff to schools that offer hands-on training or require advanced training on an as needed basis.
“Smitty’s has every advanced certification for all of our OEMs within our group of mechanics or management group. Some certifications gain us advantages for discounts on parts, retail reimbursement for warranty repairs and authorization for certain repairs without having to get an authorization from the OEM.”
—David Wood, Smitty’s Lawn & Garden Equipment, Olathe, Kan.