Make your operation the ‘go-to’ farm, part two

Think about the future when it comes to your farm’s landlords.

Last week, I shared a few questions to ask yourself as you work to make your farm the ‘go-to’ operation for landlords looking for a new tenant. Catch up by reading the first couple questions in part one.

To recap, those initial questions covered getting a clear idea of who your landlords are, what they want, as well as what landlords in general want most from their relationship with tenants.

Here are two more questions and areas to work on as you create your landlord plan. The goal is always building stronger relationships and being intentional about becoming the ‘go-to’ farm in your area.

New landlords
How will you find new landlords? If your farm has additional family members returning or is growing in some way, chances are that locating new landlords may be on your mind.

As I mentioned before when I discussed ways to find out what landlords want, you could survey local landowners about what they look for in a tenant – not with the intent to rent their land, but to find out what you can change or start doing to become that ‘go-to’ operation.

If land is frequently managed by farm managers in your area, introduce yourself to some of them. Build a relationship with them. Ask for their perspective on what makes a particular farm or farmer great to work with. Consider incorporating their suggestions into your approach.

Next generation
How will you get the next generation on your farm involved with your landlords? Are members of the next generation working on your farm – who may be running the farm some day? How much exposure have they had to meetings with the farm’s key partners, including your landlords?

Introducing landlords to the next generation on your farm is a good first step. Then, you will want to start educating the next generation on the actual process you use to work with landlords. They need to see and learn as much as possible from you.

Plan to take them along when you meet with a landlord. Before going to the meeting, sit down together and explain how you’re going to approach it. Tell them the purpose of the meeting, what’s probably going to happen and what they can expect.

After the landlord meeting, have a discussion about what they saw happening and what they learned. Once they’ve observed a good number of meetings, consider asking them to lead the meeting with you observing and able to step in if necessary. With you acting as the landlord, they can practice by role-playing leading the meeting. Gradually, as you watch them lead successful meetings and build their skills in this area, you can give them full responsibility for relationships with certain landlords.

Be intentional about your landlord plan. Ask yourself the four questions and figure out how your operation can step up its game in each area. You may want to talk about any landlord challenges or business challenges your farm faces with a farm business advisor.

Read the current issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue features ideas on preparing for land opportunities, thinking ahead about retirement, how to keep pace with the changes of the 2016 crop year, and more advice for farm leaders. Get your free online issue here.

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