Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles based on an over-lunch interview with Case IH’s North America’s Jim Walker, Vice President, and Melinda Griffin, Director, Network Development, at the headquarters offices last fall in Racine, Wis. The first article in the series focused on a new Sustainable Growth plans rolled out to dealers in early 2017 and the second article explained the logic behind the new volume incentive changes. The third article explained new communication initiatives and the re-emphasis on the Dealer Advisory Board. The fourth article served to set the record straight on what Racine says about brand alignment (purity).
During a discussion on where improvement opportunities still exist for both Case IH as a full-line manufacturer and in its dealer network, Melinda Griffin, Case IH Director of Network Development, pointed out a new investment Case IH was making in their dealers in 2018 … a dealer “best practice” group.
“Part of our plan and the core strategy on dealer capabilities was how to leverage the experience and practices of the strong dealers across the network,” she said at Farm Equipment’s meeting with Griffin and Jim Walker in Racine, Wis., last fall. “So, we now have a panel of 18 dealers represented by all the regions and we brought them together in June of last year for the first time to collect and talk about best practices around driving absorption.” George Russell of Machinery Advisors Consortium (and Farm Equipment’s “People & Profits” columnist) is the facilitator.
Case IH’s Jim Walker and Melinda Griffin
Griffin says that the plan is for two meetings in 2018, and to compile the best practices on an array of topics and share them in a published form by the fourth quarter of the year. “We want it to show the dealers the best practices of the best performers. They know the other dealers who are doing well, and it would explain what they’re doing. And then we’ll be creating a repository so that when dealers have turnover in a new parts and service manager or whoever, they can go in and look for and review those ideas. So rather than recreating the wheel, we’re trying to share that knowledge and expertise across the network.”
Jim Walker, Vice President-NAFTA, says it’s unique approach. “You typically have the Dr. Jim Webers and the different 20 Groups and stuff, but this is strictly for the benefit of this brand. There’s a facilitator, but the dealers talk it out and share for theirs and the other dealers’ benefit.”
Another initiative to mention, says Walker, is the pilot program Case IH put in relative to dealers’ own strategic planning. In this instance, Case IH made the investment for a select group of dealers to gain access to the same strategic plan facilitator, Beck Ag, that guided Case IH through their process (described in the first article in the series).
The participants liked it enough in the first year that it’s being expanded beyond a pilot program in 2018. “Not all dealers looked at their businesses that way, and we review at the end of the session about whether the dealer’s and our strategic plans are in alignment and in the same direction. And now those dealers are having their quarterly updates just like we do,” Walker says.
“So, to get dealers to drive their businesses and strategic plans, we just can’t just hope that it’ll happen. We decided to provide services for that. Like we say, ‘it’s carrots, not sticks, that we want to use.’”
"We review at the end of the session about whether the dealer’s and our strategic plans are in alignment and in the same direction. And now those dealers are having their quarterly updates just like we do. To get dealers to drive their businesses and strategic plans, we just can’t just hope that it’ll happen. We decided to provide services for that."
— Jim Walker, Vice President,
Case IH North America
In this way, Walker says the best practices panel and other initiatives are Case IH’s commitment to supply the tools that support the actions needed from dealer network. Some dealers understand absorption, capitalization and business plans and are ready, he says. And there’s dealers on the other hand who are facing tough competition and having trouble in achieving the market shares. “We need to help them drive their business,” he says.
“We talk about inventory levels and inventory turns. And so, we’re starting to rethink ourselves on how to improve used and new turns in a dealership, which will take the financial burden of interest expense off the dealer network. How can we presell to a higher rate that results in taking the trade earlier and remarketing it into the marketplace, without it sitting? How can we help them accelerate capabilities that increase their parts and service business? Those are kind of the things we’re looking at to help the dealer network.
“If we understand their situation and make adjustments where we can help them, then the dealers need to also be a part of the brand and move forward with it. That’s the partnership part of it, this interdependency.”
Coming Next … Observations on Case IH dealer network of tomorrow.