Farm owners need every edge and advantage they can find, especially in these days of economic volatility and changing dynamics. Many farm owners are seeking outside advice from professional consultants to help them in one or more areas of their farm business, ranging from financials to technology, agronomy, and management skills. But how does a farm owner begin in the search for the right ag consultant? What factors should you consider, and how can you be sure you are ready to get the maximum benefit from your consultant’s advice?
When you have identified an area of your business where you need some outside help, some questions you should ask the potential consultant include
- What types of services and resources do you provide to your customers? And what is your experience and expertise?
- Tell me about some of your success stories. How have you helped other farmers solve problems in their farming operation?
- Will you share with me contact information of some of your customers (as references)?
- What can I expect to happen in the first 90 days?
- How will you help with implementation of your recommendations? How will you hold me accountable?
- How many other farms do you work with? In what geographic areas do you work?
- Do your farmer clients get together as a group? If so, what is the format, what happens, and what is shared during those meetings?
- What is the value you can bring to me in the short and long term?
Remember, not everyone should use an outside consultant. Besides the questions listed above to ask the potential consultant, it is equally and perhaps even more important that you take a look internally and ask yourself these questions:
- Am I willing to change the way I have done things in the past?
- Will I hold myself accountable to implement action plans to reach my objectives?
- Will I take the time needed for face-to-face meetings, conferences, trainings, etc., and have my appropriate family members and staff also participate?
- Will I be open and honest about what is really happening in my operation?
- How much time am I willing to commit for implementation?
- Am I willing to communicate when I need help or feel things are not heading in the right direction?
- Am I willing to share my true financial situation so that I can get the help I need?
- Am I willing to invest financially to increase value and improve efficiencies?
We know it is tough to choose a consultant for your farm business. That is why FamilyFarms Group was created to be not just a short-term fix but an ongoing consulting partner to assist your operation as the industry and your farm change—improving efficiencies, enhancing your skill set, finding ways to lower costs, providing networking and training opportunities, and finding more time for your family—all with the objective of providing opportunities for future generations to continue farming if they choose to.
Knowing how to choose a consultant and how to be sure you are ready to gain maximum benefit from the consultant’s services is only part of the process. An equally important step is defining the area(s) of your farm business where you want and need to focus. It’s not always easy to put your finger on the one or two areas of your farming operation where you will gain greatest value from an outside resource. Defining where improvement is possible and prioritizing them is one reason FamilyFarms Group developed the business evaluation process for farming operations.
Our professionals, with many years of experience in the key areas of your business, will call and talk to you to gather information about these areas of your operation: human resources, management, financial, accounting, operations, crop insurance, precision agriculture, landowner relations, crop sales, marketing, safety, grants, legal, acreage growth, entity structure, training, and more. They will include in their write-up specific recommendations for each area of your business. This professional evaluation will point out areas for improvement and help you prioritize your objectives. Members of FamilyFarms Group are assigned a “coach” to help formalize an improvement plan with detailed action steps and then ensure the plan is implemented.
Please contact FamilyFarms Group to discuss your farming operation and to get started defining areas of your business where outside resources will be most beneficial.