Featured Dealer: R&L Feeds

Adolescence can be a scary time in a young person’s life. High school is busy with homework, FFA and cheerleading. Serving as the Northeast Kansas FFA Vice-president, Kansas Angus Association Ambassador, working cattle with family and going to shows takes up a lot of time. Those activities might seem like enough to keep a junior in high school busy, but add in a BioZyme® dealership, and you’ve got the life of 16-year-old Eva Hinrichsen of R&L Feeds near Westmoreland, Kan.

Eva, whose parents, Ron and Lynne, have been BioZyme dealers for nearly five years, decided she would like to take over the dealership and make it her FFA SAE (Supervised Agriculture Experience).  She had total support from both her parents and her FFA advisor.

“My dad has been in sales pretty much his whole career and I always thought it was interesting,” Eva said. “I wanted to develop more sales skills and help with my business management skills and this is a different way to get an opportunity to do that.”

While it was slightly daunting for her at first, Eva said the positives definitely outweigh the bad. She has honed in on her sales skills and increased her product knowledge, which was the biggest challenge she faced.

“I was a little nervous at first because I was so young to be doing this,” she said. “I didn’t know how it was going to work out trying to talk to producers about changing their mineral. It was a little nerve-wracking. I just try to convince them to spend a little more money so they have a better return on their investment, and I think I’ve been pretty successful at that. It’s been a great opportunity, and it’s been fun to do that.”

Eva has set goals for both R&L Feeds and her SAE. For her business, she wants to increase the total tonnage she sells on annual basis and expand her product line. For her SAE, she wants the project to be successful and show some revenue. She said there is a lot of records to keep with both.

Initially nervous, Eva says she now talks to producers with ease, and that they have been pretty friendly. She takes advantage of the weekends and evenings to do most of her work for the dealership, and makes contact with a lot of her customers at the cattle shows she and her family compete at on weekends. One of her highlights so far, has been attending a new dealer orientation.

“Getting the knowledge has been beneficial to me owning cattle myself.  I went to Saint Joe and went to a class with other dealers, and I learned about the Amaferm® advantage and how that can increase the digestibility, and how gut health increases immunity. All that helps increase genetic potential. So that has been helpful for me when developing my own feed rations,” she said.

Eva encourages others who are interested in starting a business or becoming a dealer to find the courage to do so.

“It’s a little scary at first because you know you aren’t going to be as good as the trained, older dealers, but it is fun, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to do this.”

Courage to Compete

Competition is not a bad thing. In fact, competition is important to the overall growth of your business and has the potential to impact your bottom line. As more competition surfaces, it is important to tell everyone why they should buy their animal nutrition products from you, and to have the courage to set yourself apart from others in the business.

Be innovative.

Chances are you aren’t the only livestock nutrition company in your town or county. You are going to have to get creative in ways to draw those customers in to your business and keep them coming back. You will likely need to adopt new business services or marketing strategies to get customers to try your products. Is the local cattlemen’s organization having a meeting? Offer to provide part of the program in exchange for some time to talk about whatever
product best fits the season.

Provide service.

It’s one thing to sell an outstanding product. But how does your customer service stack up again the competition? Outstanding service will go a long way. Do you live in an area where there are “hobby” farmers who work a 9-5 job? Stay open late so they can pick up their products after work. Delivery is a big service that many offer, but making sure that the product is delivered on time to the proper place is important.

Know your customers.

Even though you think you are in the feed business, livestock business, equine business, nutrition business, the number one business that everyone is in is the “people” business. Building a relationship with your customers shows that you are genuinely interested in them and their program. Often business relationships evolve to friendships that evolve into long-standing customers. Know what products your customers need and when they will need them.

Tell your story.

It is ok to “toot your own horn.” You’ve got a good product, so let others know about it. This might be on your social media channels, a sign along the road or even at the local auction barn. Get out and spread the word, and encourage your customers to tell their neighbors if they like the products too. Positive peer reviews are a positive marketing tool.

Get motivated.

The fact you have competition should motivate you to be a better business person. You will need to be highly motivated to remain the better business owner. Be proactive, alert, creative and above all focused. Always think of better ways to satisfy your customers.

Staying competitive in the marketplace does take a certain amount of courage. But if you remain innovative, build relationships and provide outstanding customer service, you will edge out the competition.

Tackle the Tough

Does it ever seem like your to-do list grows by the day and you never get to check anything off of it? Are you working longer days and not feeling like you get to spend as much quality time with your family and friends? As your business grows (and that’s a good thing), so do your responsibilities. But how are you ever supposed to get everything done?

Perhaps you are like the cowardly lion from the movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” He said in the movie, “I haven’t any courage at all! I even scare myself. Look at the circles under my eyes! I haven’t slept in weeks!”

If everything you have to do to keep your business growing is making you lose sleep, grab some courage and tackle the tough tasks first. Set aside the first two hours (or whatever amount of time you choose) of your work day to do the work you feel will be the hardest part of your day. This might be a sales call with a new customer who you’ve been working on for months. Or it might be talking to an employee that you’ve had challenges with. Maybe you don’t like sitting at a desk and working on financials,

so you need to do this the first thing every day or every week and get the tough tasks out of the way.

What is your time worth? The adage, “time is money” is true, and if you ho hum around avoiding the tough tasks on your to-do list, you are losing time and potentially losing profit. By facing the toughest tasks first, you have the opportunity for further growth. Maybe you have been working with a potential customer for months, and if you contact them early in the day and make a sale, you are already growing your business first thing. Have an employee that isn’t meeting expectations? Tackle that issue first thing in the morning to start improving productivity.

When we have the courage to face the toughest tasks or the jobs we are dreading, we get those out of the way, and the rest of our day, can only improve. And what if something good comes out of that sales call you’ve been dreading to make? Then you are starting your day on a high note, after you’ve checked that task from the to-do list.

On Inc.com, Jeff Haden suggests choosing the 2-3 most important tasks (MIT) to tackle each day. As you make your daily to-do list, put these MIT at the top of the list with a goal to have them accomplished by noon each day. That gives you time for other tasks that need be accomplished.

It is human nature to avoid the tough times. But if you focus on the tough tasks in your job first, you will notice increased productivity, the potential for more financial growth and days that will fly by more quickly.

Courage to Ask

It feels pretty good to have a loyal customer base that you’ve built relationships with while growing your business. You know their needs, and they have learned to rely on you to have the products they need when they need them. However, you can’t continue to grow your business if you aren’t constantly seeking out new customers and leads.

It isn’t always comfortable to make that first call, but seeking out new customers is imperative to continue growing your business. Surely not every livestock owner, cattle feeder, horse and dog owner in your sales area is familiar and using BioZyme® products, and if they are, kudos to you! So, find those who are not using the products and reach out to them.

Not sure the best way to find those prospects? Here are a few simple suggestions from Inc.com to find new customers.

Cold-calling. This involves reaching out to someone you’ve probably never talked to before and know very little about. Perhaps you scour the ads in the local shopper paper each week for people who are selling livestock. If you see someone in your area who isn’t a customer, they automatically become a potential customer. Chances are if they aren’t a customer, the reason is because no one has ever asked them before.

Networking. There are several opportunities for networking in the agricultural business world. Perhaps you have a booth at a local cattlemen’s meeting or extension field day. You might even attend the weekly sales at the local livestock auction barn or the county fair to visit with people that you know are not current customers.

Ask for referrals. Ask your satisfied customers to send their friends and customers your way. Perhaps you can work out a deal to get a buyer’s list from a seedstock producer who hosts an annual sale. Peer reviews go a long way, and especially if other producers see positive results, they are going to want to get similar results with their livestock.

Affiliate marketing. Partner with a non-competing ag company like a bull stud or fencing company to share contact names to get the maximum exposure. Perhaps its as simple as inviting their customer list to an open house or producer meeting.

Once you’ve found new prospects, be sure to approach them in a way that that shows you are interested in learning more about them and their operation and offer solutions to their challenges. Mike Wadle, Director of National Sales – North, offers three pieces of advice for approaching prospective customers:

Listen, listen, listen. Ask open-ended questions and let the prospect talk. If you ask the right questions and listen more than you talk, you will learn a lot about the prospect. The prospect will feel like you care, and that you are sharing genuine interest in his or her operation.

Do not go into a call with a predetermined sales route you want to follow. If you think you are going to sell tons of one product without even knowing the needs of the prospect, you will likely have deflated goals. Once you know what the needs are of the prospect, you can start recommending products that best fit his or her needs.

Follow up is very important. Wadle says it is important to follow up with the prospects to show that you care about them and their needs, and the sooner the better. Don’t put off follow-up. Perhaps before you leave the initial call ask when a good time is to reach back out to them to answer any questions they might have thought of.

Finding new customers is all about building relationships. Relationships start with simple questions, showing you care about a person, their animals and their bottom line. Expand your relationships, and watch your customer base grow.

Amaferm Advantage Keeps Cattle Healthy and Mediates Antibiotic Use

Prevention is the key to good health in your cow herd. Your herd health protocol should include both a sound nutrition program and good vaccination program. A significant component to a good nutrition program is a quality mineral package that works to keep the digestive system in check.

Taking a proactive approach to your nutrition protocols starts with providing balanced nutrients that your cattle need. Offering a product like a Vita Charge® Stress Tub or another VitaFerm® mineral product with the Amaferm® advantage will help your cattle stay healthy, productive and performing. Amaferm is a natural prebiotic designed to maximize the nutritional value of feed, increasing the intake, absorption and digestibility of nutrients.

Even with a sound nutrition program and proper vaccinations, chances are you will have a few head that get sick and will need to be treated. When treating cattle with antibiotics it is more important than ever to make sure they have Amaferm in their diets. Amaferm works with the antibiotics and helps mediate their negative effects on the digestive system, making sure your cattle get healthy and keep eating.

One often forgotten side effect of antibiotic use is the potential negative effect on the beneficial microbial population residing in the digestive system. A common side effect of prolonged antibiotic treatment is a reduction or slowing of the growth rate of these important microbes. Amaferm is research-proven to combat stress by supporting the animal’s own immune system, significantly increasing intake and nutrient utilization. Research shows that Amaferm helps support increased numbers of rumen bacteria and helps maintain a diverse population in terms of species, which is fundamental to a healthy animal.

Kevin Glaubius, director of nutrition for BioZyme®, offers some key takeaways from a Kansas State University Amaferm and antibiotic trial. Although the effects of the Amaferm were dependent on the antibiotic used and the species of bacteria that were studied, Amaferm did have positive impact on the antibiotics commonly used to treat sickness. This occurred by allowing the growth rates of important species of rumen bacteria to more closely resemble the growth rates of bacteria in the non-antibiotic controls.

“Some of the antibiotics we looked at in the study stopped growth of some of the microorganisms that aid in digestion, which could have a negative effect in the overall performance of the animal,” Glaubius said.

If you do have to treat a sick animal with an antibiotic, consider giving it a dose of Vita Charge Paste or Vita Charge Drench in conjunction with treating it. The Amaferm in the Vita Charge will help alleviate stress and keep the animal eating while it heals.

December 2017 – Letters from Lisa

Christmas is my favorite time of year. The birth of Christ and its meaning has been a monumental part of my life, and my birthday is December 24 – that is a story of courage in itself.

There is a much better story of courage that took place at the first Christmas. We often miss it because our focus is on a young mother and a baby. This character heard first hand that his bride-to-be was pregnant, and it was not his child. He experienced a personal message from God because of the extraordinary event. He stood by the manger where the baby was laid. He provided protection for the mother and child during the early years of the child’s life. The man’s name of course is Joseph. What the story of Joseph tells us is that:

1. God gives courage to ordinary people.

2. God gives us courage to overcome our doubts and fears.

3. God gives us courage to face the future.

God provides the same courage to business leaders, but we try to complicate it by making rash, unproductive or irrational decisions.

The word ‘courage’ derives from the Latin word cor, which means ‘the heart.’ Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by revealing all one’s heart,”in other words, to speak openly and to act honestly with integrity. It means to tell your story how it is – even at the risk of being rejected, ridiculed or misunderstood. Do you have this type of courage in your business?

The good news about courage in business is that it is not something you either have or don’t have. Courage can be learned, cultivated and practiced.

Six processes can help you start down this path: setting goals; determining the importance of achieving them; tipping the power balance in your favor to precipitate action; weighing costs against benefits and moving forward with that balance in mind; selecting the proper time line for action and developing backup plans.

Changing our lives, and eventually creating an entire culture of courage, starts with small acts which then produce micro-changes in each of these processes.

As we enter into the Christmas season, do you need the courage of Joseph to boost your business? Joseph took what he perceived at the time to be small steps, but those courageous steps made our world and our lives a better place.