January 31, 2017
In last week’s post, I started talking about two sets of people you will want to consider as part of your farm’s team – whether or not they have a hand in the farm’s everyday operations. The first two? Your employees and your family.
This week, I’d like to discuss two more groups, keeping in mind that even though neither of them works within the operation – they’re not employed by you – they still can impact the level of success you achieve. They’re your landlords, as well as your partners, advisors and suppliers.
Communicate with them about your vision for the future of your operation, and how you plan to get there. Landlords and lenders might gain more confidence in your leadership, and therefore, your farm. Advisors and suppliers can better understand where you want your operation to go, and gain more awareness of how they can help you achieve your vision.
In farming, your landlords essentially are your customers. Here are three actions to create a win-win type of relationship with them, that’s as mutually beneficial as possible:
Choose to invest time and energy to build connection with them.
Schedule check-ins to communicate what’s going on in your operation.
Educate them about the current ag operating environment, if necessary.
The landlord likely will want some level of information about what’s going on in your operation – that may look very different for each person. The key is to find out what they want from you, whether it’s crop plan data, regular visits, or phone calls.
Commit to investing time with landlords this winter and getting expectations on the same page. Wouldn’t it be great when they understand that you want what’s best for their land and for the partnership between the two of you?
Your partners, advisors and suppliers
This group might not immediately come to mind as members of your farm’s team, yet can play a role in helping the operation thrive. Think about your lenders, seed and fertilizer dealers, equipment dealers, crop insurance and farm insurance agents, accountants, financial advisors and business coaches or consultants.
All provide some aspect that keeps you farming or helps you achieve a higher level of success within your operation. It’s helpful when this group has an understanding of where you want your farm to go, and your commitment to what you want it to become. They can then tailor their recommendations and advice toward those goals.
This winter, communicate with each of them about your vision and expectations around their involvement with your farm this year. They need to have a mindset of helping you reach your objectives. If not, it’s time to seek out a team of advisors who truly want to serve you and your operation as you work toward your farm business goals.
Read the new midwinter issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue includes perspectives on what to do when a landlord asks for higher rent, how to find the right new employee, a farm business checklist for the spring season, and more. Get your free online issue here.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.
Darren Frye grew up on an innovative, integrated Illinois farm. He began trading commodities in 1982 and started his first business in 1987, specializing in fertilizer distribution and crop consulting. In 1994 he started a consulting business, Water Street Solutions (www.waterstreet.org), to help Midwest farmers become more profitable through financial analysis, crop insurance, commodity marketing, and legacy planning. The mission of Finance First is to get you to look at spread sheets and see opportunity, to see your business for what it can be, and to help you build your agricultural legacy.
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