October 1, 2019
In today’s farming operations, there are often many moving pieces. It takes a whole line-up of people – both those employed within the operation and those from outside who play some role in helping your farm – to get everything done.
As the farm’s leader and CEO, often it can seem like we’re responsible for managing many different relationships within and across our operation. I’m not thinking solely about managing employees here, although those are certainly important relationships to manage.
I’m thinking about all the other relationships that are key to keep today’s operations running smoothly. These are the relationships you have with your lenders, landlords, vendors, suppliers, dealers and advisors, to name a few.
Where to focus
One of the key elements to good business relationships is trust. When trust is high in a relationship, everything generally goes better. Things move more quickly. People typically want to do business with other people they trust, and they want to keep doing business with them – that brings long-term stability.
Trust can be difficult to quantify, but in business relationships it can become a competitive advantage for your operation. For trust to grow, we must prioritize a few components in our relationships – this applies whether you’re thinking about internal employees or external advisors who are key to your operation.
To prioritize trust, consider working on these three aspects of business relationships. Each brings a different “piece” that comes together to form a strong, trusting working relationship.
Be competent. This can seem like table stakes, but it provides a foundation for trust in any business relationship. The other person needs to know that you know what you’re doing as a farm leader – and you’re good at it! You know you’re a competent farm leader, but you may need to help others understand that, especially those who need to know they can trust in your competence, such as your lenders. Think about ways you can regularly demonstrate your leadership abilities to them. For example, know which financial ratios are most important in gauging your operation’s health and be able to explain those to them in conversation.
Be communicative. A key component in any relationship is good two-way communication. And in business relationships, regular communication with your farm’s stakeholders is so important. Others need to be hearing from you regularly – and not just when you’re asking something of them or wanting to discuss next year’s rent. Think about what’s important to them overall – and then ask them about it. Also, think about what’s important to them in terms of your working relationship with them. Put yourself in their shoes regularly before you talk with them.
Be aware of history. I’m thinking here about the history of your business relationship together. What does the “track record” of that relationship look like? Is one side always “taking” and the other “giving”? Or is there a clear back and forth? Your history of whether you follow through on promises will also provide a piece that greatly impacts trust in the relationship, as well as the level of quality of what you bring, and the professionalism of your operation.
Many farmers have found that working with a trusted advisor to create and execute marketing plans has given them a partner for their farm business, bringing more peace of mind. You can get in touch with our market advisors today.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.
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