Identifying and developing your bench strength


Top Metrics to Watch

In this issue of Western Equipment Dealer/Canadian Equipment Dealer, my colleague Trent Hummel has a great article on assessing, attracting and developing bench strength for your senior management team. In this edition of Top Metrics to Watch, I’m building on Trent’s comments as they relate to key mid-level managers.

Staying with Trent’s “sports” theme, it’s worth repeating that not every star player makes a great leader or coach. However, your future leaders or captains may be sitting on your bench waiting to be discovered.

Many mid-level parts, service, or aftermarket managers are promoted from within. In most cases, these people have a high level of technical skills and product knowledge but may lack the leadership potential and financial skills to succeed as they transition into management.

Hire, Develop, Promote – three steps to ensure success

Using assessments will assist you to:

  • select the best ‘good fit’ candidate for the position,
  • obtain essential information beyond resumes, background searches, or interviews,
  • compare non-industry candidates to a preferred standard,
  • identify individual training and coaching requirements throughout an employee’s life cycle, and
  • provide succession planning for the position and career planning of employees.


I visited with Blair Clark, president of SmartHire, Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Clark has extensive knowledge in the agricultural equipment industry and has helped develop assessment templates specifically for agricultural equipment dealership positions. He recommends an easy to use tool called Prevue Assessment. These tests can be completed online, and results are specific to each candidate and job role.

I first met Blair in the mid-1990s when we started to use the Prevue Assessment job fit and traits assessments in our dealership and saw the benefits immediately.

“People differ psychologically as they do physically. Personality traits, such as motivation or competitiveness, are not usually teachable. Using an assessment tool that identifies these traits can be extremely helpful,” says Clark. “Employees who align quickly with the vision of your most senior leaders are more likely to be considered a ‘good fit’ than those who do not.”

“Aptitude assessments,” adds Clark, “identify the candidate’s natural abilities, interests and motivations… and are critical for ensuring the right job fit.” 

Following are benchmarks for different positions within a dealership. In these charts, we can compare Abilities and Motivation/Interests of a parts counter person vs. aftermarket manager and an ag technician vs. service manager.

Article Written By Kelly Mathison

KELLY MATHISON is a former dealer and current trainer and management consultant for the Western Equipment Dealers Association’s Dealer Institute. Mathison specializes in parts, service, and aftermarket training. Please send questions and/or comments to


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