For those of you who can remember back to Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, you’ll remember one of the slogans credited with helping him unseat a sitting president: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

The phrase became legendary and is still widely used to make an obvious point more obvious. These are meant to evoke an “A-ha!” reaction, or as the younger generation may say, “Duh!”

I had one of these moments while sitting through a recent webinar from Purdue’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business. The webinar presented primary research findings on what’s important to large agricultural producers.

Nearly 1,700 farmers participated in the survey and one portion of the study asked who or what producers ranked as their most important sources of information as well as their media choices. One question asked, “on a scale of 1 (not important) to 9 (very important), how important various information sources are for their management/purchasing decisions.”

Would you be surprised if dealership personnel occupy the top two spots?

Local dealer technical support came in first place and local dealer sales staff was ranked just behind them. They easily outdistanced lenders, other farmers, manufacturer reps, paid consultants and even extension services as to who farmers most rely on for information.

So, it really is about the people, isn’t it?

Dealers and their educational events scored in the top three most important media sources that farmers prefer. They ranked farm publications as their first choice for receiving information followed by field days, dealer or retailer meetings, university publications and farm shows.

This probably isn’t news for progressive dealers — and it shouldn’t be. But it does confirm how important your people are to your customers.

Just a few weeks ago, our graphic designer who handles the layout of our directories remarked how smooth things went in the production process of our SOURCEBOOK in our September issue. With more than 1,200 companies and 11,600 products listed, along with hundreds of call ads placed where the manufacturers wanted them, it’s impressive when things go so well behind the scenes. It wasn’t always that way. I remember when we launched this edition years ago.

I said to him, “It just proves how important good people are.” He readily agreed since they avoided the headaches that typically accompany a project of this size with such a high number of variables.

Your job isn’t getting any easier when it comes to staffing your dealership, but you know having great people in the trenches makes it better for everyone.

When it comes to personnel, it is no longer a matter of simply needing more bodies to do more work. The demand is accelerating for more perceptive, customer-centric individuals with a focused awareness of customer wants and needs. And it applies across all departments. Frankly, I have no idea whatsoever if these are teachable or learnable skills.

What it really comes down to is finding talented people who care about their customers and their company. I’m not sure you can teach people how to care, but I am sure of one thing: If the boss cares about his dealership’s customers and employees, it tends to rub off on the rest of the team.