The last half-decade has seen both subtle and dramatic shifts in dealer priorities, with evolving sales goals and service objectives. But results of the recently released sixth annual Precision Farming Dealer benchmark study reinforce several trends for how dealers plan to achieve continued business growth.

With contributions from nearly 100 farm equipment dealers, input retailers and independent precision companies, respondents ranked by importance, their projected 5 year investment in their precision business.

For the second straight year, employee training topped the list in 2018, with more than 71% of dealers viewing this area as the “most important” investment.

The importance of hiring and developing specialists goes hand in hand with training, as 63% of dealers ranked adding precision staff as the “most important” need to grow precision business in the next 5 years.

Less than 2% cited this area as “least important” tied with employee training for the lowest total.

 Interestingly, in the short term, only about one-third of dealers cited additional staff as their greatest need to grow business in 2018, perhaps underscoring the scarcity of talent as well as the competitive landscape for reliable specialists.

Placing third in the 5-year outlook is another perennial priority — customer training — with 54% viewing this area as “most important” followed by marketing at 45%, which increased about 4% as “most important” over 2017.

Looking at other top priorities in the coming year, starting to bill for precision service remained a hot item with 51% ranking this as their “most important” area to grow revenue.

But interestingly, a high of nearly 20% of respondents also ranked this area as “least important” during 2018.