Do You Have What it Takes?

June 13, 2013 10:30 PM
Kevin Spafford

Don proudly flies the colors and exemplifies the character of a well-groomed, professional dealership owner and manager. He is an excellent representation of his equipment manufacturer. Left to his own devices, Don could be called a workaholic. He knows marketing, customer relations, sales, service and finance. Although he’d never admit it, he’s pretty good at politics, too. Don is the kind of guy you want on your team. He’s got a fatherly image, a grandparent’s wisdom, an agripreneur’s chutzpah and plenty of resolve. By all accounts, he has it all.

If Don’s operation were a one-man-popcorn stand, his talents might be enough to succeed. But that’s not the case. He has four stores and is planning a fifth. His operations cover six counties and cross a state line. His customer base includes a range of people: urban lifestylers, mega-farmers, organic vegetable producers and cut-flower nursery operators. On any given day, Don wears many hats. Although productive, he runs out of daylight long before he gets to the end of his to-do list.

Yet he doesn’t do everything; no one can. Don recognizes the team effort required to grow a business and he’s assembled a crew that, together, has what it takes to succeed. So what does it take to create something bigger than oneself? Do you and your management team have the skills, traits, abilities and resources for continued business improvement?

When beginning an evaluation of your dealer team, consider the following fundamentals:

  • Skills are a learned ability to perform certain activities and job functions.
  • Traits are those (sometimes indescribable) qualities in a person’s character that affect behavior, thought, mannerand motivation.
  • Abilities are learned or innate talents that help a person perform specific job functions or tasks.
  • Resources are an economic and productive element helpful or necessary to achieve a desired result.

Using the checklist that follows, evaluate your own personal and professional character. Do you have what it takes? Are the outlined characteristics available across your management team or present in the family members who are active in the business?

If there are gaps in the skills, traits, abilities and resources of your management team, consider recruiting from within or outside the family to shore up certain areas. Each attribute is multi-faceted. For example, resources include assets, capabilities and experiences. Empowering people with those qualities will give your business what it takes to succeed.

Kevin Spafford serves as Farm Journal Media’s succession planning expert. His firm, Legacy by Design, guides agribusiness owners through the succession planning process. Send questions to Legacy by Design, 2550 Lakewest Drive, Suite 10, Chico, CA 95928, (877) 523-7411 or



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