Easy, Efficient, Effective or Expensive?

Let’s get it right out of the way first: I am not an agronomist.

I do, however, have a solid base of understanding relating to agronomy. With tongue in cheek I like to say, “I know enough to be dangerous.” Nonetheless, I took great pride in the significant attention to detail I employed while being in charge of seeding when still part of the farm. I carefully measured TKW (thousand kernel weight) and calculated seed rates accordingly. I was diligent about what fertilizer, and volume of fertilizer went into the seed row (we only had a single shoot drill.) I always slowed down to 4mph or less when seeding canola and ensured to reduce the wind speed to the lowest possible rate to minimize the risk of canola seed coat damage.

I always had a long season in spring from having to cover the whole farm twice: once with a fertilizer blend to be banded, (all of the N and whatever PKS that couldn’t go in the seed row) usually at least 2″ deep; the second pass was with seed and an appropriate PKS blend that could be be in the seed row. It’s just what I did to respect what I’d learned about the importance of fertilizer rate and placement. It took more time in applying, hauling home, storing, etc. It created operational challenges during application (it seems there were never enough trucks and augers available.) It took more time to set the drill for the correct application rate. All of that didn’t matter to me because I only had once chance to get the crop in the ground and fertilizer properly applied (at least at that time, the equipment we had made it so that all fert was applied in spring) and I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance that I could easily control.

The key point in fertilizer management is “The 4 R’s.” Right source, right rate, right place, and right time of fertilizer application make for the best use of your investment. So why over the last number of years have we seen such a boom in spreading fertilizer on top of the soil?

This article was recently published by FCC. There is no ambiguity as to the best and most effective way to apply phosphorus. I’ll ask again, “What’s with the shortcuts?”

I know the answer: time. There isn’t time to incorporate adequate volumes of fertilizer into the soil. We can use a spinner that has a 100′ spread at 10mph (or more;) this permits more fertilizer to be applied in a shorter amount of time, and it permits fewer stops to fill the drill during seeding…all of it saving precious time. I get it.

But where is the trade off? Have The 4 R’s of Fertility been tossed aside completely? Where is the balance?

Casting aside the proven science of the 4 R’s in order to save time by broadcasting is easy and efficient, but is it effective? I suppose that depends on what effectiveness you are trying to accomplish. I’m suggesting effectiveness of the fertilizer you’ve paid dearly for.

Direct Questions

When making important management decisions like fertility, what methods are you employing to determine your best strategy?

Where is your balance between ease, efficiency, effectiveness, and expense when making critical management decisions?

How has your Unit Cost of Production projection changed if you decide to accept only 80-90% effectiveness from your fertility program?

From the Home Quarter

What is easy might seem efficient, we might believe it is effective, but it is most likely expensive. Historically, decisions were made with the goal of minimizing expense with little else given to consider ease, efficiency, or effectiveness. Management decisions that do not provide adequate emphasis on effectiveness will likely see higher expenses. Your focus with your agronomy must be to produce at the lowest Unit Cost of Production possible on your farm. Choosing a fertilizer application method that places more emphasis on that which is easy versus that which is most effective is likely to create a situation that is expensive. Management decisions that focus heavily on one aspect to the detriment of the others rarely achieve results that meet or exceed expectations.

Introducing the Growing Farm Profits 4E Management System™. Details to follow.

About the Author

Kim Gerencser

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with. Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.


 

 

If You Are Happy Just Floating Along, Go Fishing!

I wasn’t trying to be funny when I quipped what is the title of this commentary while in a meeting with an excellent banker and the exciting young prospective client he introduced me to. It just sort of rolled off my tongue in the moment. It was a hit; both men enjoy fishing.

The premise of that particular conversation was profit. In my work as a lender and a consultant, I venture to say I’ve looked at hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands, of financial statements. Those statements have told a vast array of stories, from the depths of successive and devastating financial losses to the opposite end of the spectrum with profits that make you wonder if your’re drunk when reading it. Many hang around the middle, somewhere south of an impressive profit , but still north of a fundamentally adverse loss. It is sad to discover than many farmers create this break-even situation by choice.

The choice is often centered around tax and the great lengths taken to avoid payment of income tax. The list is long and arduous; it won’t be found here.

Let’s put this in real terms. Most farms I’ve analyzed range from approximately $250/acre on the low side to $400/acre (or even higher) as the figure that represents whole farm cash costs. That is the amount of cash required to operate the entire farm for one full year. Now, I got my math learnin’ in a small town school, long before calculators were allowed in the classroom, back when cutting edge computer technology was the Commodore Vic 20, but math is math, so if we consider a 10,000ac farm with $400/ac costs, we’re looking at $4,000,000…each year!

Granted, there aren’t too many 10,000ac farmers who are happy to break-even each year, but they are out there. At the end of the day, I don’t care if you’re 400 acres or 140,000 acres, expect a profit!

Farmers take far too much risk each year to not expect a profit. If you walked $4,000,000 into any bank, could you get a better return than 0%? Of course! You could get a risk free rate in GICs that would probably approach 3% (or maybe 4%…any bankers reading this what to comment???) So I ask why, if you could get a risk free rate of 3% or 4%, why would you take a sh_t-ton of risk to accept a 3% or 4% return farming?

Direct Questions

Investing $4,000,000 in GICs and getting a risk-free 3% annual return grosses $120,000 per year before tax. Could you live on that?

Land owners/investors demand a rent that mimics 5% return on the value of the land. If you invested $4,000,000 in land, you could earn upwards of $200,000 gross in rent, plus enjoy the long term capital appreciation…could you live on that?

What is an acceptable return to demand from your business…based on the amount of risk you take each year?

From the Home Quarter

Farming is not for the faint of heart. Farmers accept the financial risks that come with farming because they understand them. The opposite if often true of stock markets: farmers aren’t typically investors in equity markets because generally they don’t fully understand the risks. But savvy stock investors who do understand the risks still expect a positive return, they aren’t happy “just getting by.”

If you’re happy just floating along, go fishing.

About the Author

Kim Gerencser

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with. Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.


 

 

Hide & Seek: How Perfection Kills Success

While on holidays in early July, I watched our group of 3-5 year olds playing hide and seek. They were having a ball because each of them is learning to count so being the seeker was their chance to show everyone how high they could count, because the thrill of the chase is invigorating, and because the risk of getting caught (found) adds an element of excitement.

What I found consistent while watching these children play was how all of them, no matter how long the “seeker” counted, kept moving from one hiding spot to another. Yes, these are small kids, aged 3 to 5; yes, they are too young to grasp the strategic concept of the game; yes, they were actually hoping to get found. It appeared as though they would hide, then identify a spot that looked better, so they’d leave their first hiding spot to go to another. Once there, they’d realize that it either wasn’t as good as it looked, or that they see yet a better hiding spot elsewhere. And the cycle continued until the seeker was done counting.

The point is not meant to be critical because it applies to older kids who do understand the strategy of hiding stealthily so that the seeker can’t use his other senses to pick up a hint where the hiders might be. Either by making noise while hiding, or by wasting their precious lead time looking for the ideal place to hide, they often leave themselves vulnerable by trying to find the perfect hiding spot.

These children were exhibiting a behavior that we, as adults, emulate far too often. We regularly short-change ourselves by seeking perfection, or our personal idea of it; we jeopardize success in the now because we we see something that we “think” is better.

The young children playing hide and seek spent their entire hide time, while the seeker counted, their entire hide time was spent moving from spot to spot, often giving up a great hiding spot for a poorer one. The older kids playing hide and seek waste their hide time by trying to find that perfect spot that no one has thought of, and when they can’t find it by the time the seeker announces “Ready or not, here I come,” the hiders are usually not ready and end up settling for a terrible hiding spot just so that they actually hide and aren’t caught just standing there in the open…


How does this apply to you or your business?

  • How much time over the winter is spent researching the “perfect” seed variety to grow?
  • How much time is invested into monitoring equipment prices and inventories to feed the desire of owning a seed tool (sprayer/tractor/combine) which might be “that much better” than the one on farm now?
  • How much time is spent in frustration thumbing through all the resorts available to choose from in the Caribbean so that your winter vacation will be “perfect?”

 

Direct Questions

Is there more analysis put into short term decisions than long-term or even permanent decision?
(It took 3 months to decide what canola to seed…but we’ll just expand that bin yard over there!)

Is there more analysis put into what we find fun and less into what we don’t enjoy?
(I know precisely how many combines like mine are for sale in Manitoba right now, but I haven’t bothered to consider if I could reduce my interest rates.)

Have you passed by a really good hiding spot because you were trying to find the perfect one?

From the Home Quarter

“Paralysis by Analysis” is a not so old adage that I lean on regularly. It is a challenge for detail guys like me because we want to be sure we’ve got everything right and in place before we take the next step. “Paralysis” because sufferers never take the next step; they justify their inaction because the “analysis” isn’t complete. News Flash: it is never complete!

I have made great strides in shucking that condition. It pokes its head out occasionally…I treat it like “Whack-A-Mole!”

Your farm will succeed if your canola variety yields 3 bushels less, but stands better than the other variety you desired. Seeking a marginally better sprayer probably won’t make enough difference in your overall profitability to cover the added cost. And take the damn vacation…you deserve it, you’ve earned it! Stressing over picking the “right resort” kills part of the fun. It’s like trying to pick the juiciest apple on the tree by looking at them from the ground.

About the Author

Kim Gerencser

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with. Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.


 

 

ROA – Return on Assets

Return on assets, or “ROA” as we’ll refer to it, is an often overlooked financial metric on the farm. Partly, I think it is because there is a culture in agriculture that places too much emphasis, even “romanticizes” the accumulation of assets (namely land, but mostly equipment.) This doesn’t necessarily bode well for ROA calculations. But the greater reason ROA isn’t a regular discussion on the farm, in my experience, is because it is not understood.

The math is simple to understand, so when I say “ROA is not understood,” I mean that the significance of ROA, and its impact, is not appreciated.

Return on Assets is a profitability measure. Its key drivers are operating profit margin and the “asset turnover ratio.” ROA should be greater than the cost of borrowed capital.


 

Let’s ask the question: “When calculating ROA, do we use market value or cost basis of assets in the denominator?” The simple answer is “BOTH!”
Do two calculations:
1) using “cost” to measure actual operational performance;
2) using market value to measure “opportunity analysis” which is a nice way of saying “could you invest in other assets that might generate a better return than your farm assets?”


 

Operating profit margin is calculated as net farm income divided gross farm revenue, and is a key driver of Return on Assets.

The asset turnover ratio (also a key driver of ROA) measures how efficiently a business’ assets are being used to generate revenue. It is calculated as total revenue divided by total assets. The crux of this measurement is that it has a way of showing the downside of asset accumulation. The results of this calculation illustrate how many dollars in revenue your business generates for every dollar invested in assets. While there is no clear benchmark for this metric, I’ve heard farm advisors with over 3 decades experience share figures that range from 0.25 to 0.50. This means that for every dollar of investment in assets, the business generates 25-50 cents of revenue (NOTE, that is REVENUE not PROFIT).

If assets increase and revenue does not, the asset turnover figure trends negatively.
If revenue increases and profit does not, the operating profit margin trends negatively.
Increasing revenue alone will not positively affect ROA. “Getting bigger” or “producing more” alone without increasing profit does not make a difference. If you recall: “Better is better before bigger is better…”

To Plan for Prosperity

As you will find in many of these regular commentaries, the financial measurements described within are each but one of many practical tools to be used in the analysis of your business. Return on Assets cannot be used on its own to determine the strength or weakness of your operation. But used in combination with other key metrics, we can determine where the hot issues are, and how to fix them so that your business can maximize efficiency, cash flow, and profitability.

About the Author

Kim Gerencser

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with. Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.


 

 

Per Acre Equipment Calculation

In the June 8, 2017 edition of the Western Producer, columnist Kevin Hursh penned Per acre equipment calculation can be revealing. As is typical, Hursh hits the nail on the head with this piece by suggesting farms should know their equipment investment per acre. His column goes on to describe how new equipment has seen significant increases in SRP (suggester retail price) over the last few years, contributing greatly to the elevating of the “per acre equipment calculation.”

First, let’s figure out where you are at. Add up the current value of all your equipment, owned and leased. If that total is $2.5million, and if your farm is 5,000 acres, your equipment investment per acre is $500. If we compare that to a 2,500 acre farm with $1million invested in equipment (therefore $400/ac), who is better off?

Measure it against earnings

Last year, I had a client tell me about a meeting with his lender. This particular client is small acreage, relatively speaking (under 1,000ac in crop) and yet was quite well equipped for his acres. He carried minimal debt, and despite some cash flow challenges over the previous two years, his working capital was still very strong. He was seeking a high-clearance sprayer so that he could ensure timely fungicide applications for his lentils, and other high value crops. The feedback he received from his lender was that his “equipment investment per acre was to high.” On the basis of that single calculation, it most certainly was. What the lender failed to evaluate was the entire farm profitability. Because of the small acre base, my client was able to produce a rotation of high-management high value crops. His net profit per acre was almost double a typical grain farm. His ability to justify a high equipment investment per acre was evident. Needless to say, he acquired his sprayer (a used model valued at just north of $100,000) pushing is equipment investment per acre from $484 to $644.If we only looked at equipment investment per acre, we would likely conclude that Farm B is in a better situation by only having $400/ac invested in equipment versus Farm A having $500/ac. Yet when we dig further by bringing EBITDA into the calculation (EBITDA is Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation & Amortization) we discover that Farm A generates stronger EBITDA per acre than Farm B, and is therefore possibly justified in having a higher investment per acre in equipment. In practical applications, even this doesn’t go far enough to determine which is better, but it’s a start.

To Plan for Prosperity

Delving into management calculations can be daunting and confusing. If we don’t know what to look for, how it compares, or even if we’re not measuring anything, we’re already behind before getting started. Begin by measuring the many facets of your business; in this case, “What is your equipment investment per acre?” How has is changed over the last five to ten years?

Relating back to my client, his EBITDA was a whisker under $120/ac, so his EBITDA to Equipment Investment on a per acre basis was about 0.186:1. This means that with his equipment investment of $644/ac will generate about $0.186/ac in EBITDA. Is that a good metric? As Kevin Hursh closed his column, “It’s unfortunate that more information isn’t available on the typical investment levels in each region. That would allow producers to make more relevant comparisons.”

About the Author

Kim Gerencser

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with. Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.


 

 

Managing Operating Efficiency

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” It’s been said time and time again, by me and many others. Here is an example that should get everyone buzzing.

A client of mine recently shared a sample of information that they collected from their equipment. The information shared with you is specifically from their sprayer:

A simple pie chart creates an “A-Ha Moment” that no one saw coming. I am sure you can all imagine the conversation around the table when this information was presented. What would your response be if this was your data?

As the discussion progressed, it became clear why the number of hours spent idling was what it was:

Admittedly, no one was tracking the number of idling hours that were attributable to any of those 4 points, but there was little argument that loading and rinsing contributed the largest share to the number of idle hours.

What can be done with this information? Since this sprayer is on a lease contract, the “cost per hour” is very easy to calculate. Now that we know the cost per hour of running this sprayer, we know how much all that idling costs. Now let’s go back to those 3 potential responses to first seeing this original data:

What this client of mine is now doing is evaluating the cost/benefit of putting a chem-injector system on their sprayer. Such an addition will:

To truly test this option, we would need accurate data over the period of at least 2-3 growing seasons measuring:

Naturally, very few, if any, farms record this data. Yet we can clearly see the effectiveness of having such useful information available to make the most informed decision possible. Without it, we are using emotion and our best guess. Obviously, our best guess can be way off, as is seen in just how much this sprayer spent idling in 2015.

Direct Questions

How are you managing and using your business data?

If you are not measuring it, and therefore cannot manage it, what are you using to make business decisions if accurate and useable data is not available?

How many decisions relating to improving efficiency can be made on your farm with better data?

From the Home Quarter

The report that contained this information (including the pie chart above) provides much greater detail to the goings on of that one machine than just usage by hour. Some of it, like the 8,970,000 yards this sprayer has traveled is not necessarily useful, but knowing that the 92.2hrs spent in transport used 910 gallons of fuel is.

While laughing and pointing around the table when comparing similar data from the combines, and identifying “who is the best combine operator” is interesting and fun, it is the action that comes out of the data that has the greatest impact. Positive action can and will impact your bottom line…but then so will inaction.


If you like this article, check out the Growing Farm Profits Series!


ABOUT  THE  AUTHOR

KIM GERENCSER

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with.

Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.


 

 

 

Test Your Outlook

PRICE  VS.  COST

*The following three lines are excerpted from Seth Godin’s Blog, October 16, 2017*

Price is a simple number. How much money do I need to hand you to get this thing?
Cost is what I had to give up to get this.
Just about every time, cost matters more than price, and shopping for price is a trap.

Does what Godin writes above strike a chord with you?  When I hear of farmers selling out their long time input supplier to buy fertilizer for $5 per metric tonne cheaper from the dealer 20 miles down the road, I can easily understand that this is someone who does not understand price vs cost.

EXPENSE  VS.  INVESTMENT

Too often there is confusion about what constitutes an expense and what constitutes an investment. An investment will provide a return over what you’ve paid, an expense will not.

Examples of investments are crop inputs, land, hired help, and quality advisors.

Examples of expenses are repairs, fuel, and equipment.

Sadly, when profitability is at risk, the first place many farmers look at is what falls under investment.

PRICE  VS.  VALUE

Price is what you pay.

Value is what you get.

And while it seems simple to distinguish one from the other, when emotion enters the equation we find that value is often seen where it does not actually exist.

PROFIT  VS.  CASH  FLOW

When I was still farming, the first year that dad wasn’t actively farming on his own any more and had rented us all his land, I was negotiating with him on when he wanted to get paid the rent (in the current year or after January 1). When he offered to defer to the new year since he had enough old crop sold already, I thanked him while admitting that it would help us since we were tight on cash for the next couple months. His reply was, “I thought you said this farm was profitable.” I told him it was, yet he wasn’t able to recognize that even though we weren’t flush with cash at that moment, we were profitable.

Often times when working with clients, I am offered a projection that they might have built on their own. Whether they call it a profit projection or a cash flow projection, it usually is a combination of both: it contains cash flow items like loan payments as well as expense items like (non-cash) depreciation. Doing so makes the result of the exercise look much worse that it actually might be.

Profitable businesses run into cash flow challenges at times; unprofitable businesses run into cash flow challenges most of the time. To rectify the issue, one must first know whether the problem is profitability or cash flow.

PROBLEM  VS.  OPPORTUNITY

Recently, I read an article written by a farm advisor that described the panic of a client who hedged 30% of his new crop production at a profitable price. The panic was because the market had moved higher. His view was that this was a problem, but the advisor patiently guided him through the reality that this was actually an opportunity to price more crop.

The producer viewed the situation as a problem because he felt he “missed out” on selling for a higher price. The reality was that he was already priced at a profit (a meager one, but still a profit) and now had the opportunity to price in even more profit. Sadly it seems he would have been happier if the market had moved down because his hedge would have been even more in the money despite the fact that the remaining 70% of his new crop was unpriced and might then be unprofitable…

TO  PLAN  FOR  PROSPERITY

Objectivity can be difficult to maintain when making business decisions. I know; occasionally I have the same difficulty in my own business, and that is why I have a business advisor.

As entrepreneurs, we get caught up in what we’re doing, what we’re trying to solve, or what we’re working to create. We can get so engrossed in our own ideas that we sometimes fail to see what is blatantly obvious, that which can bring faster results, a more desirable outcome, or just less stress. Garnering the perspective from someone outside our business is a great way to test our outlook.


If you like this article, check out the Growing Farm Profits Series!


 

ABOUT  THE  AUTHOR

KIM GERENCSER

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with.

Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.

 


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.


 

 

Control

How do you employ control in your business? Is it over operations, people, cash flow? Those are quite broad descriptors, and when it comes to people, please recognize the difference between control and influence.

Here are the top areas to control to achieve greater prosperity.

Cash

Working capital, especially cash, is a critical component of any successful business. Over the life of this weekly blog, you’ve read my constant rant about improving working capital. More and more important, the piece of working capital that needs focus, will be cash. A big part of working capital is inventory, but in a time when it is all too common for inventory to fall subject to grading issues, delivery glitches, etc, farms need the stability that comes from increased cash on hand.Expenses and debts unabashedly punish your cash. What are you doing to protect it?

Marketing

Even though we’ve had (generally) another banner year on the crop side, we have to give credit to the insulation from the commodity slide that we’ve enjoyed thanks to our slumping Canadian Dollar. Should the dollar strengthen, we’ll feel more of the pinch that our American neighbors are living with today. How would your cash flow look if you had to manage today’s expenses with 2010 prices?
Far too many farms rely only on forward contracts. The reasons for it, I won’t speculate. Many tools and advisors exist to help you control your marketing (versus letting your marketing control you.)  When you’ve got full control over operating expenses (Point #3 below…keep reading) your marketing opportunities become more clear. This allows you to confidently price profitably.

Operating Cost

When we make more, we spend more (despite a contrarian strategy discussed here on  May 17, 2016 – Spending Less is More Valuable than Earning More.) As farm incomes rose, so did farm expenses; what used to be “nice to have but could live without” has now become “must have” (in mindset anyway.) If we are to compare 2017 expenses to 2010 income (as suggested above,) why not look at 2010 expenses too? How have operating costs changed in your business over the last 7 years (2010 to 2016 inclusive)?

TO  PLAN  FOR  PROSPERITY

You’ll note that the first item listed, cash, is at the top for a reason. However, if you start at the bottom, you’ll see how it is connected, how it flows and will get you to the results you desire, the results you may not think are achievable…but most certainly are.

Start with 3, it will have great impact on 2, which will lead to strength in 1. Control them all as you would control your equipment.
Make sense?
3…2…1…GO!

 


If you like this article, check out the Growing Farm Profits Series!


 

ABOUT  THE  AUTHOR

KIM GERENCSER

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with.

Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.


 

 

Why Tractors are Sexier Than Spreadsheets

Blame Kenny Chesney. He didn’t sing “She thinks my spreadsheet’s sexy.” Across all genres, I’d bet there is no one immortalizing accountants, bankers, and financial analysts in song.

Chesney’s 1999 release, She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy is one of my favorites. At a time when farming didn’t get much attention and wasn’t garnering a lot of respect, it was a feel good jam that pumped me up every time I heard it. Seventeen years later, it still does.

Please realize that my opening statement above is tongue-in-cheek. I do not hold Kenny Chesney accountable for why tractors are sexier than spreadsheets. But the question still begs, why are spreadsheets unpopular when compared to tractors? Both are tools with specific uses. Both tools are effective, highly powerful, and multi-functioning. Both can create efficiency that is almost immeasurable.

Business owners can hire someone to run either tool, the tractor or the spreadsheet. If you were to follow one of the cornerstones of my advice, “Do what you do best, and get help for the rest,” then you’ve already likely hired someone to drive the tractor, right?

A long tenured ag professional, who will remain nameless, recently during a conversation with me describing one of his frustrating client experiences quipped,”If driving tractors is more important than running the business, we’re very near the end.” We laughed at the absurdity of the words, yet were stymied by their truth.

In a meeting with a client recently, we were discussing their growing ability to gather data from their operations. They shared the question posed by their equipment specialist “What are you going to do with all this data?” I instantly shot back,”Just collect it; we’ll figure out how to use it.” The goal is to make data collection a natural part of business activity, a habit, not a challenging task on the ever growing “To Do List.”

What we will do with that data, collected in part by/from the tractor, is more than likely import it to a spreadsheet. In that spreadsheet, we will be able to delve into the figures, sort them into a usable format, and ultimately make decisions that are more informed than ever before.

DIRECT  QUESTIONS

  • Does running the tractor take priority over running the spreadsheet? Why?
  • If you’re not running your spreadsheet, who is? Does this pose a risk in your mind?
  • Do you make equipment purchase decisions without consulting the spreadsheet

TO  PLAN  FOR  PROSPERITY

Informed decisions lead to higher profitability. Higher profitability has a way of reducing risk. Reducing risk increases confidence.

Since spreadsheets make for informed decisions which ultimately increases confidence, and since confidence is sexy, doesn’t that make spreadsheets sexy?

Back to you Mr. Chesney…

 


If you like this article, check out the Growing Farm Profits Series!


 

ABOUT  THE  AUTHOR

KIM GERENCSER

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with.

Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.


 

 

 

Be Intimate with EBITDA

No, not in the literal sense. This is a G-rated commentary…

EBITDA

EBITDA is an acronym for EARNINGS BEFORE INTEREST, TAXES, DEPRECIATION & APPRECIATION. It is your business’ profit from operations. More than just understanding it, being intimate with how it affects your business is critically important.

EBITDA is pure because it does not include the effects of financing decisions (this is why it excludes interest) accounting decisions (why it excludes depreciation & amortization) and tax environments (why it excludes income taxes paid or payable). It simply shows just how slick of an operator you really are.


EBITDA = net income + interest expense + taxes + depreciation & amortization


If your accountant isn’t including this in your financial statements, you can figure it out pretty easily using the formula above. How has your EBITDA been trending over the last 5 years? Have you considered the reason why?

Your lender is keenly interested in your EBITDA. In fact, he or she will calculate it internally and measure it against your total debt payments required in the next 12 months. It is called “debt service coverage” or DSC for short, and is a deal breaker if it doesn’t meet your lenders’ minimum standards.

For many farms, net equity has been on a very positive trend over the last several years. While this is good news, like any news we can’t just take it at face value. What is the underlying story? If equity has been increasing from appreciation of asset values (namely land) and not from retained earnings, then it does not build confidence that the operation is profitable. If the operation is profitable, it is capable of growth and meeting loan repayment schedules (those same loans that help fund the growth.)

RETAINED  EARNINGS

Refer to the percentage of net earnings not paid out as dividends, but retained by the company to be reinvested in its core business, or to pay debt.  It is recorded under shareholder’ equity on the balance sheet.


If a business is not retaining any earnings within the business, it limits its ability to fund growth, transition, etc.


TO  PLAN  FOR  PROSPERITY

Recognize that EBITDA is the measure of your business’ operating performance. It has a key accountability in growing your business’ net equity. It is heavily relied upon by lenders.

1.        Calculate your EBITDA. Look at how it is trending. Acknowledge xxxx what is affecting the trend.

2.        Understand your lender’s Debt Service Coverage (DSC) xxxxxcalculations.

3.        Decipher what has had the greatest impact on your net equity: xxxxxappreciation of assets, retained earnings, or both?

Your relationship with your EBITDA should be very, very close. Some might even say “intimate.”

 


If you like this article, check out the Growing Farm Profits Series!


 

ABOUT  THE  AUTHOR

KIM GERENCSER

Kim has a unique ability of fostering strong business relationships by building trust quickly and easily through his genuine care and interest in the well-being of everyone he speaks with.

Kim holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services, and a lifetime of on-the-farm experience. After nearly a decade in the financial industry, Kim knew he could bring greater value to farmers by being independent, unbiased, and unrestricted in how he serves his clients.

 


This content is published with permission of the author.

For more information, visit Growing Farm Profits Inc.