The owners and employees of the operation try to take great care of their landowners – they are timely with field work, exceptional in their stewardship of leased land, and, with their agronomy background, their yields typically exceed county averages by 10-15%. They mailed their rent checks on time and assumed everything was okay with their landowners. Then in back to back years, two landowners did not renew their lease, choosing a different producer as their tenant.
The two landowners combined represented over 600 acres so losing close to 10% of their operation was quite a blow and they didn’t know why or what to do. This caused them to second guess the security of the leases with other landowners, since much of their land was cash rented. They also knew that a majority of their land base was with older landowners, and it would be changing hands in the near future.
The family is in a competitive area, so they were also concerned about how lower commodity prices might require downward rent negotiations if they were to maintain the profitability and margins they desired. The family needed to ensure that the relationships with their landowners were stronger than ever, and realized that this idea is easier said than done.
As Members of Family Farms Group, they turned to their unlimited access to PR, acreage growth, and landowner relations resources. The family first attended FamilyFarm’s Landowner Relations training and then implemented a customized 17-point Landowner Retention program.
They then began to compare their landowner relations efforts to their fellow Group Members and pick ideas that they had not considered to help foster their relationships with current landowners. They created multiple methods to communicate more efficiently and to help landowners understand their family, and their long term goals. Working with their resources from FFG, they put 3 things in place to start building relationships with the next generation of landowners, many of whom they had never met.
They also assigned one of the family members with the responsibility of Landowner Relations, who works with FamilyFarms Group to maintain the skills needed to succeed. Since that time, the farm has not lost a single landowner and have received referrals to other landowners because of the care and attention given to their customer landowners. The family has always understood how they are different from other producers in the area – and now their landowners do too.