November 2, 2023
One of my favorite activities is conducting agricultural lending schools when elite producers are in attendance. Often when a question arises regarding how a producer would view a situation, an instantaneous response is available from the back of the room. At a recent event, three days of intense education yielded many nuggets of wisdom and perspectives shared between producers and lenders. The following is just a few of these perspectives.
One of the producers was disappointed that lending decisions are made by credit analysts in a big city with no understanding of his operation, only the financials. To further his disappointment, there was no feedback on how his financials compared to other producers. When he did inquire, the response was, “You are doing great, would you like more credit?” He indicated that he was really upset when the new loan officer was introduced through a letter with no follow-up for interpersonal interaction. He eventually requested another loan officer that he knew through local sports and board activities.
On a positive note, this producer really liked his operating lender. The combination of a full-service lender who knows the goals of his operation and gives back to 4-H, FFA, and youth leadership organizations is appealing. He actually enjoyed the full-day inspections as it gives him a day with the lender going to various parts of his operation and sharing his records, ambitions, and goals.
The elite producers teach their children business and finance at a young age. Many of the adult children have business enterprises that are financed by the lender. One producer indicated that he stayed in the lobby while his teenage son negotiated and made a loan deal with the lender.
The elite producers focused on the big three for profitability.
Focus on increasing gross margin.
Reduce overhead expenses.
Develop strategies and actions to increase asset turnover.
The elite producers use terms such as “regenerative agriculture.” They focus on keeping their operation simple and aligning with the demands and desires of the marketplace.
When asked why they were successful, the producers often mentioned their business culture, employees, and suppliers with a focus on earned net worth. They indicated that they were hungry for information and engagement, which is why many of them have been involved with the lending schools for over a decade.
Some final nuggets from the elite producers included the following.
Their marketing plans are boring. They focus on “base hits” rather than “home runs.”
Each of the elite producers have a vision, mission statement, and written goals.
They mentioned, “Like working cattle, you cannot push them. You must lead.”
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