Going Beyond the Financials
Most operations understand the concept of benchmarking financials against other similar operations. It’s done in other industries, and it’s becoming more and more prevalent in agriculture. Benchmarking financials can provide valuable information about where your operation is doing well AND where you can do better.
But, there is a key question – Can benchmarking go beyond financials? ABSOLUTELY!
Benchmarking financials is certainly an “easy” place to start. “Easy” because you can clearly compare quantifiable data, but not always easy to do. Other areas won’t have such a clear cut ranking system, but will provide valuable information regardless. So what other areas could you benchmark?
Compensation – How much do you pay your employees? You might feel that your operation is paying top-notch salaries, but how do you really know? It’s important to have a basis for comparing this information because, let’s face it, farm operators don’t have a lot of information available on salary.com! It is important to understand if you are paying your employees on par with other similar operations. This may depend on benefit packages so you need to include that as well.
Incentive Systems – Just as important as compensation could be incentive systems. What type of bonuses do you offer? Do you offer a housing allowance (documented or not!)? In short, how do you incentivize your employees? It’s great to get ideas by learning how other operations are accomplishing this.
Grain Marketing Plans – Most operations have a plan for their grain marketing, even if it’s just taking the truck directly to the elevator. But how does your percentage priced by the end of July compare to your neighbor’s? Your neighbor might not be willing to share that information with you, but there are operations you can benchmark with.
Landowner Relations Plans – How do you deliver rent checks? How do you plan your appreciation events? When do you send out newsletters? Everyone may think that they are doing all they can in this area, but if you don’t know what others are doing, you may not know what else you COULD be doing. If you want to keep your customers, your landowners need to feel valued. It can be invaluable to know what other operations are doing in this area.
Finding other operations with which to benchmark in each of these areas may seem daunting, but FamilyFarms Group can provide the forum. Ready to learn more?