Dealer Employee Development Audit


Workforce and leadership development is a critical need for the future growth of a dealership’s business. This development must go beyond training on the tasks necessary for the exercise of his trade. It also requires people and soft skills training. There is financial literacy training that future managers and leaders need.

“Dealers don’t approach recruiting or training strategically. It’s partly because of the weather. We’re plugging a hole. When the hole opens, we don’t invest time working on the business. We’re too busy working in the business,” says John Schmeiser, CEO of Western Equipment Dealers Assn. (WEDA).

“And if we work in the business, working on the business suffers strategically. You can’t think about your business strategically if you’re putting out fires all day or dealing with customer, manufacturer, or personnel issues. »

WEDA and Farm equipment conducted the survey of dealership CEOs over 2 weeks in November 2021. Results are based on 62 responses, representing 437 locations in the United States and Canada with 10,941 employees. The average number of locations per dealership was 7. By brand, 35.5% were John Deere dealerships, 21% were New Holland, 17.4% were Case IH, 17.4% were Kubota, 11.3% were AGCO and 14.5% answered “other”.

“We know that workforce development is not a new topic, but it becomes more relevant every year, and this year’s survey confirms that,” said Michael Piercy, vice president Dealer Development at WEDA’s Dealer Institute. “Based on some of the results, you’ll find that it’s not only relevant, but now a major concern for many dealers.”

According to the Cost of Doing Business study, the average annual spending by dealers on training on an annual basis in North America is $30,000, Schmeiser says.

“When you look at our manufacturers’ requirements just for product training or service schools, that’s the $30,000 right there. We have a significant number of our dealers who invest over a quarter of a million dollars in training every year because they view training as an investment,” he says.

“I think that’s one of the hurdles we still have here, in addition to time, training is seen as an expense or training is seen as a necessary evil because the manufacturers require it and we’ll tick a box to meet dealer standards.”

Additional survey results are detailed in the infographics below.

How is your bench strength?

Dealer feedback included:

“The challenges associated with managing a team and staff in the age of COVID have been overwhelming for leaders. Accountable managers try to meet local, state and federal mandates while trying to manage staff, many of whom are in rural areas. They would rather simply resign than comply.

“We have the talent, but most don’t want to move, that’s what we need to move forward.”

“Our problem is having enough staff, period. Advancing roles is difficult when simply having enough people in the building is the most important issue.

Where is the greatest immediate need?

When it comes to immediate needs for senior or middle management, it’s no surprise that department managers again ranked #1. The most notable jump from the previous year was the need for a store manager or general manager at 46%, a 6% increase. The need for a parts manager increased 5% from the previous year’s survey to 34%. All other management positions were relatively in line with last year’s results.

Dealer feedback included:

“We are still at the basic level of skill development for our mid-level managers. They are good functional managers, but they do not have highly developed leadership skills. This is what it takes to attract and retain the talent we need.

“I would rank the need for a good service manager – one with the right mix of technical and relationship/leadership skills – as highest.”

“One or two unexpected departures of key employees and we’re in trouble.”

Long term needs

Service managers were again ranked as the top long-term need by dealerships. In the latest survey, 60% of dealerships ranked service managers as the greatest need, up from 57.1% in the previous survey. This was closely followed by parts managers at 58%, which was just under 35% of dealers last year ranked as the greatest need. Schmeiser noted the biggest jump from last year.

Dealer feedback included:

“Looking at a succession in 3-5 years, we will need a strong global secondary market manager.”

“We are 5-7 years away from needing department heads unless a health issue arises.”

Dealer takeout

Best Training Sources

Nearly 47% of dealership CEOs said there were adequate sources of training. When asked what their preferred source of training was, 45.2% said in-house training/training by existing employees was their top choice. This is down slightly from the 50.8% who responded the same way last year. Nearly a third of CEOs said they prefer independent training and consulting firms.

Dealer feedback included:

“Hybrid of internal and independent. Found that manufacturer training is not beneficial to dealers, but rather a “tool” to relieve dealers of manufacturer duties; a method of “training” the dealer to perform tasks that the manufacturer should have its own personnel perform. »

“Need to integrate more external, professional and continuous management development, mainly focused on people management.”

Self-monitoring — How are you?

CEOs were asked if they were doing enough to develop people into senior/middle level leadership positions. Just over two-thirds (66.3%) said no and only 16.1% said they were doing enough. Another 17.7% said they were unsure whether or not they were.

Dealer feedback included:

“It’s bold of me to say yes, but we’ve just embarked on a fully comprehensive and intentional leadership development path for our ‘NextGen’ leadership group using a third-party training resource.”

“Wasn’t a specific goal. Just on-the-job training to give them more responsibility and they gain experience.

You want to know more ?

Watch the webinar—Equipment Dealer Industry Workforce Development Survey Results—on

Copies of the survey as well as individual line breakdowns – the results of AGCO, Case IH, John Deere, Kubota and New Holland compared to industry averages – are available from Western Equipment Dealers Assn. Contact Michael Piercy ([email protected]) or John Schmeiser ([email protected]) for more information.

What skills do managers need the most help with?

When it comes to skills, CEOs say their dealership managers need more training, workforce development was the most popular response with 80% agreeing or strongly agreeing . “What this tells us is that CEOs and owners are looking for skills and training to help their top managers develop hiring skills. That’s our topic, that’s workforce development, and it goes right to the top and very distinctly that dealerships need help in that area,” Schmeiser says.

Skill development

When looking at dealers of all brands, leadership training was again the #1 need, with 70% of dealers agreeing or strongly agreeing that their management team needs training in this area. When “agree” is taken into account, the percentage rises to 90%. Consistent with last year, operational best practices were a strong and solid #2. Another 80% of dealers somewhat agree or strongly agree that understanding finances is a key issue for them. “The question most organizations ask is, ‘Is our test bed deep enough to meet future industry challenges?’ The answer most give is “no”. It’s embarrassing, but fixable,” says Piercy.

Interpersonal development needs

In this year’s survey, the skills development questions have been expanded to include additional soft skills that may require training for managers. Strategic thinking had the highest percentage of CEOs who said they agreed or strongly agreed that their managers needed to develop this skill. “It’s part attitude, part behavior, but they’re still necessary skills that CEOs look for in their leadership team to help them take their dealership to the next level,” Schmeiser says.


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