For any dealership, finding the ideal set of employees to help their business thrive can be daunting on its own. Within this obstacle is the challenge of structuring a compensation plan that is enough to entice the candidate, but not to the point of bottom-line detriment.

With 120-plus pages of compensation data for the ag industry on a corporate and dealership-level scale, the bi-annual Equipment Dealers Assn.’s Compensation & Benefits Report provides a vital tool for dealers. The most recent 2016 edition includes:

  • Expert analysis, commentary and resources for important human resources issues, benefit management and employment practices
  • Corporate and dealership compensation data broken down by office, sales, parts and service departments
  • Over 450 individual technician compensation and service shop rates, including data on high, low and average rates, with feedback on payment strategy.
  • Bonus and commission structure comments for over 30 key positions including sales and parts
  • Samples of key human resource forms

We talked with Joe Dykes, EDA’s vice president of industry relations, to take a deeper look into key improvements and takeaways from the 2016 survey and how dealerships can use the information to its fullest.

Precise Calculation

 In an effort to provide more accurate data, the EDA updated its method for calculating the average compensation data for each position and category. In the 2014 study, all of the responses for base salary were combined and averaged, and all of the bonus responses were combined and averaged, and those two figures together were added and listed as the total average compensation. In 2016, however, the individual salary and bonus for each individual response were combined together, and those figures were combined and averaged, providing a more accurate reference for dealerships to use as a comparison tool.

“In the previous survey, all we did was combine the average of the base salaries and the average of the bonuses to calculate total compensation, but simply adding those two numbers together doesn’t show the true average of the responses,” Dykes explains. “For this survey, if a dealership answered $100,000 for base salary and $50,000 for bonuses, we added those two together and then averaged the $150,000.”

Also included in the 2016 edition are subcategories detailing the specifics of commissions, including average commission percentages based on profit, total sales and total salary.

Categorical Methodology

Complementing the updated method for averages is the subdivision of data into 4 categories based off total dealership revenue (less than $10 million, $10 million-$50 million, $50 million-$100 million, and more than $100 million). Dykes believes this specialization provides users with more confidence, as they can see how similarly sized operations compare without the concern of skewed data from significantly larger (or smaller) operations.

“The majority of responses came from dealerships between $10 million and $50 million in total revenue, which averaged 2 stores per dealership group,” Dykes says. “It was important to categorize the dealership sizes separately because the larger dealership groups could have one respondent to the survey representing 20 or more dealership operations.”

The 2016 survey also breaks down regional variance within the responses, breaking down a series of underlying statistics (total number of responses, average volume per dealership group respondent, average number of locations per dealership group and average volume per location) into 8 different regions within the U.S. as well as Western Canada. Dealerships in the North Central region provided the largest representation, accounting for 35.3% (482 of 1,363) total responses within the U.S., followed by Great Lakes (18.2%) and South Central (11.2%).

Dykes believes the wide representation of data overall from over 1,300 dealerships serves as an increasingly valuable tool for dealers, especially considering the industry-wide shift towards fewer, but larger dealership networks.

“We’ve had large dealership groups use the survey as a guide in preparation for annual salary assessment reviews,” Dykes says, “It’s not a definitive book, but it’s something that can indicate if a dealership compensates below or above the average for a particular position, which can prompt discussions about making adjustments. As operations get bigger, they’re expanding into multiple states, so it’s reflective to have a nationally scoped audience.”

From the Dealer to the Dealer

Each of the 30-plus job descriptions were accumulated directly from dealership feedback when making the survey, providing users with a benchmark for delegating responsibilities or formulating new positions at their own operation. In doing so, new job titles relevant to trends in the industry can be added, most recent exemplified through service department positions. Also included for each position are direct dealer-based comments on commission structures, compensation strategies and more.

“New additions for 2016 include staff agronomist and GPS specialist,” Dykes says. “We’re seeing more and more of the big dealership groups hire full-time positions to better reflect what they’ve got to do to service their customers.”