February 5, 2013

Yeah, I know, we’ve barely gotten the voices of Super Bowl analysts Jim Nantz and Phil Simms out of our heads and here’s another football analogy.

But having just returned from last week’s first-ever Dealership Minds Summit in Kansas City, the imagery of the red zone — that spot on the field where opportunities are the greatest — seems appropriate. Because during that sold-out Summit, the Dealership of the Year alumni and other dealers in attendance pushed the entire dialog to that “red zone” area, and kept it there for a full 8 hours.

Some didn’t think the meeting format was possible with dealers of different colors and sizes, even some competing on the same terrain. But we saw dealers, even those in the top 1% of our industry, check their bios at the door and listen attentively on topics that transcend all dealers. We heard dealer-principals speaking candidly about what works and doesn’t, including detailed reviews of benchmarking ratios. We learned how the best dealers make hard, risky decisions when seeing a way to something better.

We’ll cite the key takeaways of this unique dealer gathering in our March edition of Farm Equipment magazine, so stay tuned. But through our journey in preparing for this event, we found ourselves asking the same questions as dealers who were signing up. “What type of leader can I be? How can we move forward for our customers and employees?”

So, our staff has two updates to share with you. First, we’ll be introducing a print edition of Precision Farming Dealer and a new website devoted to sales, service and support of precision ag technologies. It’ll debut next month — so make sure your subscription record is up to date. Second, we’ll soon announce an Editorial Advisory Board (of farm equipment dealers) that will influence how we approach the challenges in our industry and drive dialog on how best to navigate them. If you’d like to serve in this capacity, contact Executive Editor Dave Kanicki at dkanicki@lesspub.com, 800/645-8455, ext. 414.

And if we can execute some lofty goals, the industry of the future may trace a ripple effect back to what dealers addressed at the first Dealership Minds Summit in January 2013.

Just this weekend, our pastor covered a passage that reminded me of the dealers who energized this gathering with their presence. Romans 12:2 reads “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind ...”

So whether it’s attending events, reading articles, viewing select webinars or the old-fashioned face-to-face discussions with peers, education and professional development is your responsibility. It is not the responsibility of your major-line, your supervisor or owner. You owe it to your customer and each of your co-workers to give it your best. That is, to get them both to that red zone.

Many thanks to our sponsors of the Dealership Minds Summit: Versatile, GBGI, Iron Solutions, AgTron Enterprises, Orthman Manufacturing, Dealership Information Systems, Horsch and Agri-Trend. Not a single sponsor asked for time at the podium, instead showing a total commitment to letting dealers use every minute learning from one another.