The Secrets to Building Your Winning Heavy Equipment Dealership Team

Learn how to build and retain your heavy equipment dealership dream team.



Want an excellent heavy equipment dealership team? Let’s look at how to find the best folks for the job and keep them happy. 

In this article, we’ll explore what it takes to build and preserve the highest quality heavy equipment dealership team. 


Section 1: How to Hire Heavy Equipment Dealership Professionals

Section 2: How to Retain Heavy Equipment Dealership Professionals

To keep things simple, we’ll be splitting this guide into two sections: 

  1. How to Hire Heavy Equipment Dealership Professionals
  2. How to Retain Heavy Equipment Dealership Professionals

How to Hire Heavy Equipment Dealership Professionals

Design the Team & Spell Out Each Role

designing heavy equipment dealership roles Like putting together any team, before beginning the hiring process, it is important to carefully consider what kinds of heavy equipment specialists you need and how many. While these “players” may have experience and responsibilities that overlap, most heavy equipment dealerships consist of management, salespeople, marketers, customer service representatives, service technicians, parts specialists, and administrative staff. 

Once you have an idea of what your heavy equipment dealership roster looks like, carefully design their roles and responsibilities. From here, you can determine what qualifications, skills, and types of experience the ideal candidate for each position should have. When you finally hire each of these professionals, make sure each new hire is clear about their role on your team—where their skills are most needed and how their performance will be gauged. 

The Importance of Clearly Defined Roles

More than ever, employees feel most engaged when they have a clearly defined role and goals to attain. And studies support this idea. One Gallup study found that employees who understand their roles and responsibilities are 2.8 times more likely to be engaged at work. So, make sure each role has its marching orders and a way to measure success. 

Seek Out Those With Industry and Cultural Experience

finding team members 

When designing a role, it can be helpful to seek out individuals with experience in heavy equipment and build upon their skills within their role. 

Why not the other way around? 

As you probably understand, heavy equipment sales differ quite a bit from many product sales and service industries. There is almost a different culture to the industry. The target audience as well as the equipment is fairly unique—often making it easier for someone with related heavy equipment experience to branch into a sales or customer service role than the other way around. 

What does this look like in practice?

Consider how past experiences can enrich perspective—a fancy way of saying “been there, know that.” For a semi-truck or trailer dealership, a candidate with a trucking background may have unique insights for certain roles. For agricultural equipment dealerships, someone who grew up in a farming family or was affiliated with agricultural organizations may better understand what agricultural customers for look for. 

Candidates with these life experiences will likely require less training to hit the ground running in their role on your team. When said candidates are trickier to find, look for those with transferable experience and skills. 

This being said, each candidate’s skills and experience should be weighed on a case-by-case basis as no two people are alike. 

To Attract the Best Jobs, Advertise the Best Workplace

 welcoming work environment

Today’s talent has their choice of employers. In addition to competitive wages and benefits, many are comparing what their day-to-day life with particular employers could look like. More and more job seekers are looking for flexible work arrangements that support a good work-life balance. One 2021 survey by FlexJobs found that 82% of job seekers identified flexible work arrangements as a leading consideration in their job search. 

Of course, some of the details as to how to provide a better work environment will require some follow-through—which will be covered in the section on employee retention further along in the article. 

Conduct Interviews with Behavioral Questions

interview questions behavioral  

When interviewing staff candidates, it is always best to get an understanding of their thought processes on the job. You can get a sense of this by asking them about how they’ve solved various problems in their working lives and with teams in the past. Think of these as “tell me about a time when you…” or “describe an instance of…” type questions about their decision-making process in a past position. Don’t forget to also ask about the outcome of their decision and what they learned. 

Ask Questions About Hypothetical-Yet-Realistic Situations

Though asking questions about an employee’s past decisions is helpful, it can also be useful to ask candidates how they would respond to problems they may face in their role. It is important to keep these hypothetical scenarios realistic and role-specific. These scenarios can be based on problems your dealership has had in the past or could realistically come up on the job. 

Increase Position Acceptance with Competitive Pay & Benefits

competitive compensation

As of 2023, skilled employees are in demand across industries. Because of this, an increasing amount of job seekers understand their ability to negotiate their salary during the hiring process—and they’re definitely taking advantage of this.

This isn’t meant to spook you as an employer, but to prepare you for a simple truth—highly skilled employers know their worth. And one of the many ways you can land them on your team is by offering competitive pay, benefits, retirement plans, and paid time off. 

Now that you’ve landed them, let’s look at how to keep them on your team. 

How to Retain Heavy Equipment Dealership Professionals

Retaining Employees with Benefits and Career Advancement

promotion climbing ladder for career advancement

While competitive pay is a pretty simple way to get a candidate to accept an offer, great benefits in the form of great health insurance, paid time off, and retirement savings plans are some of the ingredients to keep them happy and on your team.

Pathways to career advancement can help keep hires engaged. 

To retain good hires, candidates also want to know they’re not accepting a dead-end position with your dealership. A great way to make them feel like part of the team is by investing their future with your dealership. This can mean job-specific training as well as professional development opportunities. 

By continuing to support your employees with training and education, you’re not only investing in the strength and quality of your team but you’re also showing them that you care about their professional development. 

Want Loyalty? Pay Up!

You would think that, if someone wanted to make more money, they would just ask for a raise, right? Well, not so much anymore. Studies have found an increasing number of workers leave jobs for higher wages elsewhere instead of asking for raises in pay. Why? Because job-hopping often pays off more than the raise they would get to stay. 

One survey by Yahoo! Money of 18 million workers found that those who stayed around the longest earned less overall than job hoppers—earning up to 12% more than loyal employees. 

And to make matters worse, as employers are becoming more desperate for employees, job hopping has become more acceptable—thus removing the consequences. 

So, what does this mean for your dealership? That if you’d rather keep great employees around instead of go through the cost and effort to replace job hoppers, you have to make it worth their while! Fortunately, after crunching some of the numbers, you’ll often find that retention is cheaper—if you remain proactive rather than reactive. 

Hire Managers Who Are Communicators—Not Bosses

team work

There is a certain amount of truth to the popular saying, “People don’t quit jobs—they quit bosses.” According to a 2020 study from the Society of Human Resource Management, 84% of U.S workers claim that poorly trained supervisors create unnecessary stress in their job

Hire managers with top-shelf interpersonal skills. 

A hot-tempered, out-of-touch, micro-managing “boss” is a recipe for your best employees jumping ship. To get out in front of the problem of bad bosses, resist the urge to “promote” high-performing staff from other departments to managerial positions based on old-fashioned workplace norms. Why? Because just because they’re great employees does not mean they would make great managers. 

Today’s best managers are less “bosses” and more mentors—next-level communicators with high emotional intelligence. They must foster collaboration, defuse conflict, and preserve their staff’s work-life balance to prevent employee burnout. 

Create a Workplace That Quashes “Sunday Night Scaries”

nice workplace relaxed 

A decent gauge of overall workplace happiness is how employees feel on Sunday night before returning to work Monday morning. Feelings of dread or anxiety during this time are often called the “Sunday Night Scaries.”

Want to retain your best employees? Quash the “Scaries” with a workplace they don’t dread on Sunday night. 

Here are a few ideas. 

  • Show appreciation and reward performance. Acknowledging good work can go far toward making employees feel appreciated. You can also go a step further and provide incentives and promotions based on workplace achievement or hitting various goals. 
  • Keep your door open, so to speak. Employees should always feel like they can speak freely without repercussion—either about their work-related ideas or any problems they may be experiencing that impact their performance.
  • Foster a team environment. In addition to feeling important as an employee, each person should feel like a cherished element of your heavy equipment dealership team—from the senior management to lot attendants, receptionists, and the like—from your newest hire to your most seasoned veterans. To do this, consider hosting various events or programs in which everyone is invited to participate equally as team members. 
  • Support your employees in what they need. As an extension of keeping your door open in forms of communication, accommodating employees even beyond their base requests can help them feel valued as members of your team. This can mean pleasant working environments, reasonable accommodations for various requests, and other small, yet appreciated extras. Even the tiniest gestures can speak volumes to employees. 

Team Happiness is Not a One-and-Done Job

ongoing employee retention 

Wouldn’t it be nice to hire the right folks, hold a few appreciation events or programs, and expect to preserve a winning team for the long haul? If only it were that easy! Even though keeping your team positively motivated is not difficult, it requires a certain amount of ongoing effort that is worthwhile. 

  • Make sure your managers is listening to your team and anticipating their needs. 
  • Look for opportunities to acknowledge their hard work with tokens of your appreciation. 
  • Foster a team spirit and equal appreciation among all departments and seniorities.
  • Quash “Sunday night scaries” by creating a positive work environment.

Give Your Team a Dealer System That Helps Every Department

Part of investing in a dealership staff’s success is providing them with the right tools—not only to help them meet and exceed their goals but also to work together as a team. With this in mind, your friends from Dealer Technology Solutions are pleased to introduce Dealership Drive—your heavy equipment dealership's all-in-one management platform. 

Dealership Drive allows your team to…

  • Sync your My Little Salesman listings directly with your dealership management system
  • Track and manage absolutely every lead or customer encounter
  • Automatically fill out sales documents in seconds from existing transactional and customer data
  • Easily obtain and manage legally binding e-signatures without leaving the system
  • Connect your MailChimp account for integrated marketing messaging
  • Design a custom website that automatically pulls in your equipment listings
  • Provides you with real-time dashboard data on sales, marketing, and service
  • Manage service department work and parts
  • Much, much more.

You’re invited to learn more and schedule a demonstration.

By on
About Ken Lane
Ken’s affinity for the heavy equipment industry was fostered as a curious youngster—becoming happily lost on his grandfather’s tractor sales and service lot (his favorite color is still Allis-Chalmers Orange). Since then, he’s perfected the art of turning black coffee into helpful buyer resources and marketing materials for My Little Salesman.
More in Advice & Tips