April 2017 – Letters From Lisa

When I think of a harness, I immediately start thinking about a horse. You all know that I love horses (if you didn’t, now you do), and I would say my love is really a passion. Today I feed and clean a stall of a retired champion show horse that is 27. I can’t ride him any more, he’s just a pet. But, I feed him dressed for work, so I regularly go to work with hay hanging from something. I clean the stall at the crack of dawn to get it done before other duties call, and during the week I pay someone to clean for me. If you are like my family, you are asking, “Why does she do this????”

Passion is what inspires you and what gives you the drive to move forward. It gives you a reason to get up, get going and climb into bed excited for it to be morning so you can do it all over again. It’s that adrenaline pump that wakes you up in the middle of the night with a vast idea — one that will be the next (insert something big here).

Based on this definition I would say Tubby is my passion. I carry that passion around with me every day. I only have one thing on my bucket list, and that is to show a horse again. Although I am starting to realize this might not happen, it drives me every day. I feel the same way about BioZyme® and the work I do for it.

“Passion is not something you go after as an end in itself. It’s rather a symptom of your engagement with anything into which you are fully immersed. It’s also not something you usually know you have. Others notice your full involvement with something and they call it ‘passion’. I just call it doing what I feel like doing.” – David Allen, the originator of the book Getting Things Done

So, should one try to harness passion? My family has routinely tried to convince me that I do. My answer is I don’t. Passion shows up in many shapes and forms and you just don’t get to be passionate about one thing or one aspect of life or work. So any kind of harnessing, in my opinion, would be dumb. However, balancing your passion with those around you, your pocketbook and your commitments is not dumb.

I am very passionate about the value of our additives in this new antibiotic-free world, and I believe we will be a leader in developing even more science and products to help animals thrive; however, I don’t only read, meet and think about that. While we are investing money into this exciting, potentially life-changing opportunity, we aren’t going out on a limb financially to do it. We are still working on our commitments to impact the lives of our family (yes you) positively through marketing, programs and support at the same time.

Remember, passion is like chocolate cake, it is amazing, but you can’t survive on it alone. You must know when to give passion a break and bring in reason. Passion slams the gas; reason steers us safely. Passion throws us out of an airplane; reason pulls the parachute cord.

 

March 2017 – Letters from Lisa

At BioZyme®, we track our market share in all the different markets where we are trying to grow. While the sales team would tell you that I use market share as a part of my slave driver approach to growth; it is actually not true. I use market share to motivate our entire team (you too) around the significant opportunity that still awaits us.

Our growth has been impressive and would not be possible without each of you. This growth makes it easy to ask how many more years is this really possible? The answer to that is objective and easy when you assess it from the market share perspective. At the end of 2016, our market share in the cow-calf sector was 1.5%. On a state-by-state basis it ranges from 10% in Indiana down to 0.2% in Texas. Just to give you some comparative perspective, McDonalds has 17% market share in the fast food industry, while the strongly misguided Chipotle has 2.2%.

Increasing market share is one of the most important objectives of business. The main advantage of using market share as a measure of business performance is that it is less dependent upon variables such as the state of the economy or changes in tax policy. Market share is said to be a key indicator of market competitiveness—that is, how well a firm is doing against its competitors. Similarly, within a firm’s product line, market share trends for individual products are considered early indicators of future opportunities.

I am sure by now, you are thinking let’s go grow market share. And because you are thinking that right now, I am hugging you. It is my job to keep the team focused on how to continue to grow that market share. It’s actually not that easy, but there are a few things one should constantly consider:

Stay relevant through innovation. One great way to gain market share is to spot new trends ahead of competitors. Listen carefully when you’re chatting with friends, watching the news or listening to kids talk about what they like. There may be a change in the wind your business can jump on.

Respond to customers – fast. Remember when leaving a voicemail recording that said, “I’ll get back to you within 24 hours” seemed responsive? Not anymore. In this age of real-time, shoppers are increasingly loyal to the company that can fix their problem right now. Check out how fast your competitors respond, and then be faster; customers will take notice.

Keep an open channel for customer ideas. One of those ideas might be your next hit product. So, let’s hear from all of you. What should we be considering as an add-on to our product line up??

Snap up competitors. Sometimes the easiest way to get more customers is to simply buy them. Watch for competitors that might be up for sale and purchase them or their customer lists.

Let’s go get that market share – our BioZyme goal is to get to 2.5% in the next 2 years. WE CAN DO THIS!!

February 2017 – Letters from Lisa

“ACTION IS THE FOUNDATIONAL KEY TO ALL SUCCESS.” -Pablo Picasso

In mid-January, our area prepared for an ice storm compared to nothing we had seen since 1993. I don’t remember the ice storm of 1993, but it must have been bad as they were predicting a ½- to ¾-inch of ice in this storm, a very disruptive amount. A disruptive ice storm is typically one of  ¼- to ½-inch of ice accumulation. This amount of ice starts to damage trees and power lines. As a matter of fact, a  ½ inch accumulation on power lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight.

Having an action plan around this ice storm was important to my survival success, as I am responsible for a very famous horse, two rabbits and three dogs. Our daughter came home so I had to make sure she was safe too. With all that in mind, Bob got an electrician to set up a generator wired to the house for basic power, we (along with everyone else in St. Joe) went to the grocery store and got enough food to last at least a week. We bought every heated blanket and small heater they had left at Target, and I slept on the couch so I would hear the storm hit. I did this for three nights. The ice never came. Was all this action a waste of time or did it have value?

We don’t ever expect to have to deal with an ice storm, a flood or a tornado but when they do happen, the difference between life and death is often determined by how prepared we are for action and how much of a plan we have. The same is true in business.

Here are three easy steps to ensure you maximize the value of your business with planned action.

Pick Your Three “Focus Areas” – Focus Areas are the most important areas for your business to spotlight, the areas that will really help you develop your business. Stick with no more than three, as too many priorities mean you have no top priorities. Sure, you’ll still have to take care of your company’s day-to-day operational needs, but focusing on a few key chunks will actually produce value for your company. Potential focus areas could be:

  • Increasing your lead flow
  • Improving your sales conversion system
  • Speeding up your collections cycle
  • Making a key hire
  • Developing a new product

Define Success for Each of Your Three Focus Areas – generally, you should pick criteria of success that you have control over (or, at the very least, you have a great deal of influence over). It’s important to look for criteria that are as objectively and quantitatively measurable as possible. Pick one “Key Performance Indicator” to track. Your KPI for each Focus Area gives you a yardstick against which to measure progress as you go. By laying out your criteria of success for each Focus Area, you’ll have clear clues for what action steps you need to take.

Lay Out Your Key Action Steps and Milestones – the final step is to lay out the key action steps you need to take and milestones you need to reach to accomplish success for each Focus Area. Try to break down each Focus Area into five to seven action steps. For each action step, pick a team member to be responsible for executing the step by a definite date.

Remember, action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.

January 2017 – Letters From Lisa

game chang·er
noun
noun: game changer; plural noun: game changers
1. an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current manner of doing or thinking about something.

With a goal to help ensure safe food and the sustainable use of antibiotics for animals and humans, the FDA published the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) to promote the responsible use of antibiotics for food-producing animals. The regulation requires a VFD for all medically important antibiotics (those important in human health) administered in feed, and a veterinary prescription for all medically important antibiotics used in water. However, there are concerns that FDA’s position could disproportionately affect small livestock farmers, have a negative effect on animal health and increase the cost of producing food while not improving public health.

Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, said “We believe that veterinarians should work with their clients to explore alternative approaches for managing certain animal health conditions, and we will be working with animal producers and drug companies to make any needed changes in approved conditions of use. Antimicrobial resistance is everyone’s problem. It requires determination and cooperation to make the changes needed to protect the utility of these life-saving drugs. We are grateful for the way our partners and stakeholders across the food system are responding to this challenge.”

4keypointsAll this sounds like a game changer to me. As business leaders, how do we manage a game changer and still GROW exponentially? And yes it is possible because when there is a will there is a way. Here are some ideas:

  1. Be Aware – Be aware of the emotions and needs of others, and how all of this will be embraced in the market.
  2. Have Purpose – If you want to maximize the value of a real game changer have a purpose that serves, improves, helps and inspires.
  3. Focus on Relationship – All business boils down to people (employees, customers, partners, investors, vendors, etc.), and people mean relationships.
  4. Transform – If nothing changes, if nothing is created, if nothing is improved, if nothing is transformed, then you don’t have a game changer. You simply cannot experience sustainable improvement without transformation.

It was Albert Einstein who said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Don’t get entangled in complexities – become heavily invested in the simplicity of using a game changer to your advantage.

December 2016 – Letters from Lisa

As most of you know, BioZyme® has been around for quite a long time. I would say its “old” but since my birthday is in December, and the mirror seems to think I am getting “old”, I am just going to say this company has had a lot of experience. Author Aldous Huxley states that experience is not what happens to a man: it is what a man does with what happens to him. BioZyme has tried to live through all of this experience by staying focused on innovation, research and outreach that positively impacts the performance of animals so their owners succeed. Our team tried hard to keep that theme going in 2016. See what you think.

Innovation

  • Installation of comprehensive small pack manufacturing capacity, allowing us to manufacture all of our Vita Charge® and Vitalize® pastes, liquids, powders and gel caps in-house. This allows for much quicker turn around for these very fast growing lines of products.
  • More loading and fulfillment space for faster order turn around.
  • Faster and increased manufacturing capacity with the installation of the Italian-made Concetti completely automated bagging process. This technology can handle pellets, mash, bran, granules, flakes, or crushed product bagged through a completely automatic IGF bagging machine, capable of reaching a capacity up to 1,200 bags per hour. Our old line could accomplish 2,000 bags per 8-hour shift.
  • A new, more interactive Online Dealer Center to allow for the addition of more useful features for growing and tracking your business.
  • A new VitaFerm® Cow-Calf Mineral that addresses the nutrition minimums of a cow and her calf at a price that is sensitive to the current market challenges without losing the Amaferm® advantage.
  • Adding cool, relevant folks to our team so we can make a difference in the challenges faced by this great industry.

Research

  • A two-year study at The Ohio State University found that cattle fed Amaferm during the first seven days following feedlot arrival, the highest stress period in the feedlot, had double the average daily gain and feed efficiency over the control group.
  • Research completed in Germany at Christian-Albrechts-University determined that BioZyme’s AO-Biotics reduced gut leakiness, protected against infection and tissue damage and supported up to 30% more absorptive capacity of nutrients to the monogastric animal.
  • A controlled field trial completed at the University of Tennessee-Martin found cattle given Vita Charge Drench upon arrival recovered more quickly, shown as a significant increase in weight gain during week one. The control cattle actually lost weight during the first week. Those drenched cattle were also fed the Vita Charge Stress Tub for 21 days. This combination resulted in a significant starting advantage during weeks 1-3, but also maintained the advantage throughout the trial, with significantly better ADG and weight gains in weeks 4-7 and 1-7.

Outreach

  • Secured being the authorized partner with Superior Livestock Auction, offering the first-ever and 2017 exclusive value-added nutrition programs. This is a HUGE outreach opportunity for all of us that love our amazing products. No other company has this distinction. Not Purina, not Nutrena, not Kent and not ADM. Go get ‘em, team!
  • Started the Feed the Future Program with the Hereford Youth Foundation of America to support youth – the future of our industry and our country.
  • Sponsored the Junior National shows of 12 cattle breeds and the World Pork Expo, allowing more than 4,000 youth to spin the Sure Champ® wheel and answer nutrition questions to earn prizes.
  • Transported numerous injured war veterans to their necessary medical visits around the country.

Pretty amazing, don’t you think? I am giving you a large bear hug right now. Why? Because you are part of the team that made all this happen. Because you are amazing. I hope you have a blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year. My sales team would be disappointed if I didn’t end the year with a challenge. How many tons will we be able to sell if we find all the amazing strategies to make a difference for producers and animals? I hope it’s a number we can’t even imagine.

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November 2016 – Letters from Lisa

Thanksgiving is all about thanks.

In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly, but not universally, traced to a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.” The age of this holiday tells us its relevance to all times and its purpose is extremely valuable in our present time.

At BioZyme®, our goal is to observe the purpose of Thanksgiving every day. When we think about the things we acknowledge with grateful hearts, we think of you and our working partnership with you. We appreciate each and every time you think of our brands, we appreciate your understanding when we don’t meet your expectations and we are humbled by your amazingness in your market. The last three years have been a phenomenal success for us–thanks to your efforts and commitment. And for that we are very thankful.

“As we express gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

At BioZyme, we try to live by this quote in our commitment to increase market share so your sales go up each year. We work to do this by:

  • Creating and offering research-proven products that do what they claim to do
  • Investing in consistent, relevant marketing
  • Providing on-time, frictionless delivery
  • Handling customer concerns quickly and compassionately

If we are not living by this quote, in your opinion, please call, text, email or communicate to us, and we will thankfully get to work.

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October 2016 – Letters from Lisa

Just like a trapeze artist must take a risk when letting go of one swinging bar to catch the next, growing your business year after year involves risk. This month I want to focus on the trust involved in taking those risks – much like that trapeze artist trusts that the next bar will appear just as he lets go of the one he is already clinging to in mid-air. Some risks are easy to execute but take a decent sized bank account while others are hard to execute but don’t take much money at all. I am going to rattle off a list of these options, and then you can decide which one to choose so you don’t need the net.

1. Carve out a new corner of your market
Expanding into new markets provides the advantage of building a larger customer base.

2. Partner with other businesses who are growing in your market
By forming strategic partnerships with other growing businesses that offer complementary products and services, you can cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship that will help both of your businesses grow.

3. Diversify your product offerings
A diversification strategy opens up new possibilities. You can diversify your product offering or your target markets. Think about the things that go along with the items you sell: boots, apparel, shavings and nutrition services for example.

4. Leverage a strong position with your existing core customers
The ability to leverage your existing customer base should be core to better engagement with new prospects and how you funnel them through the sales process more quickly. Don’t take them for granted—your existing customer base can be the key to advancing both marketing and sales activities that lead to significant growth.

5. Acquire or merge with other businesses in your market
Perhaps the most aggressive growth strategy is to buy a company that makes products related to yours. We’ve seen that a lot lately with tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon that continue to acquire smaller businesses. If you cannot acquire another business perhaps you can arrange to merge with it.

Choosing the best option for your business is hard work that involves risk. It is no different than the trapeze artists high above the crowd gracefully letting go of their swinging bar flying through the air being caught and then letting go again.

Author Henri Nouwen once had the opportunity to travel with the Flying Rodleighs, a troupe of trapeze artists. Their conversation inevitably turned to flying and how they could possibly do what they did. Nouwen summarizes risk: ͞

A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust that his catcher will be there for him.

So outstretch your arms; let go, and trust the option you select to grow your business.

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September 2016 – Letters from Lisa

ADD VALUE TO YOUR MARKETING IN A DOWN CATTLE MARKET

During the past few years, beef producers have been experiencing record high prices. However, according to “Money” magazine, “Beef prices, which have been increasing for years, recently hitting rates high enough to inspire outbreaks of steak thefts at supermarkets and even the return of cattle rustling, are finally coming down to earth.”

Down to earth? The magazine goes on to say the decline in price is not because demand for meat has decreased, but because cattle are fatter? The author has obviously never gone through calving, dealt with VFD or tried to find feed when a drought or flood is at hand. He calls prices “down to earth”; the beef industry calls them challenging. In any case, producers will have to take steps to improve margins, and we will have to market our products to them in a way where they will see the added value of using BioZyme® products.

Value is a funny thing. There is no doubt that in the absence of value-added marketing, virtually any product’s price can be driven down to the most bottom line – price. The problem? When you are only selling price you’ll never be able to sell value. Adding value requires creativity, innovation and a willingness to out-work your competition. But the real sad truth is that if you continue to sell the way you always have, price will continue to rule. So, make a change before your competitor does! As the famous confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest, once said following a battle, “I won because I got there firstest with the mostest!” You need to do the same thing. The question then is, what do I do? Step one is to keep marketing top-of-mind. Most of us cut marketing in tough times – DO NOT DO THIS! In addition, make sure you incorporate these eight strategies into your marketing plan:

1. Set expectations high – just accepting that times are challenging,    therefore, sales will be down, just isn’t OK.

2. Never stop studying – the products, the market, the attitudes, etc.
    – in every down turn a new millionaire is born.

3. Find your light bulb – if you are turned on, the customer will
    be too.

4. Make sure you can differentiate yourself – be faster, cheaper or
    have a sharper focus on customer service.

5. Build your spokes – hire passionate, experienced team members
    and work with the best partners, like BioZyme, to ensure a great
    product and customer experience.

6. Be bold – just do it!

7. Plan ahead – five minutes of planning saves 30 minutes of doing.

8. Really understand the products you sell.

    – What are the features?

    – What benefits do they offer?

    – Who will buy them?

    – How can you easily match their traits with the customers’ needs?

A value-added attitude must result in an active mind with “Just DO IT” actions! After watching the Olympics this summer, being motivated should be easy.  Let’s go get ’em!

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August 2016 – Letters from Lisa

 

For about six months I worked on a project we called the “messaging matrix.” Its original intent was to ensure everyone in our company was sharing the same benefits and messages about all of our products and brands. This started as a simple Excel spreadsheet, but consumed about 400 hours of my time and had so many columns I felt like a data miner. By the end of it, the project ended up being one of my most difficult, stressful and eye opening. I had never read horizontally across all of our brands and products at the same time. I had always looked at them vertically or one at a time. Sounds silly I am sure, but after much thought I realized “what a mess!” We had products that fit nowhere, branding that was going across multiple sectors within beef cattle and branding that was going across multiple species (VitaFerm® was beef, sheep, goat and dairy).

As a person who claims to be incredibly organized and run an organized ship, I had to go into hiding for a while to save face and then ended up having to take the team on a retreat to get this fixed. The end result of this project has been amazing, and it includes:

  • Strengthening our message so our dealers can benefit from a more consistent message
  • Reorganizing our products in a way that makes more sense for our customers
  • Developing a new searchable product center in the Online Dealer Center for easy quick reference to all these great brands and products (remember 43% of end users expect to get product info from you – their dealer)
  • Building excitement of stronger branding power

brand /brand/
noun
noun: brand; plural noun: brands

1. a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a
particular name.

So let’s talk branding power. Interestingly enough the word came from our roots. More than a century ago, cattle ranchers used branding irons to mark which animals were theirs. As the cattle moved across the plains on their way to Chicago slaughter houses, brands made it easier to identify which ranches they were from.

With the introduction of packaged goods in the 19th century, producers put their mark on a widening array of products—cough drops, flour, sugar, beer — to indicate their source. For example, in the late 1880s as the Coca-Cola Company was getting started there were many soda producers in every market. Before Coca-Cola could get a customer to reach for a Coke, the company needed to be sure the customer could distinguish a Coke from all the other fizzy caramel-colored beverages out there.

In the first sense of the word, then, a brand is simply the non-generic name for a product that tells us the source of the product. A Coke is a fizzy caramel-colored soda concocted by those folks in Atlanta. For more information on brands and brand consistency see this month’s Tell Everyone article on page 8.

I will end this month with a challenge – something I wasn’t doing prior to this 400-hour venture. Are you differentiating marketing from branding? Let’s work together to create evangelists for our businesses.

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June/July 2016 – Letters from Lisa

Proper planning and implementing best practices can help relieve stress due to the seasonality of our industry. From ice-cream stands and landscapers to hotels and feed stores, many small businesses are seasonal — meaning they don’t rake in much cash for some portion of the year. While making seasonality work in a business isn’t typically easy, there are ways to alleviate some of the stress.

Plan Ahead

“Measure twice, cut once” is an old adage that still rings true, especially for a small business. Look ahead at least six months to plan appropriately. To carry the business through slower periods and complete lulls, consider saving cash during the busy months. Look hard at every element, from inventory to staffing, to avoid tying up cash unnecessarily during slow months. And, don’t forget to take advantage of slow stretches to prepare for the peak season.

Work Year-Round

One issue for many seasonal businesses is that they lose visibility in the off-season. So part of the challenge is keeping customers connected, and using downtime as a time to regroup, re-evaluate the business plan and expand customer relations.

Many businesses choose to stay open year-round by switching their focus to a different niche. Many ski shops, for instance, sell bicycling gear or kayaks in the summer. Not only does this supplement revenue, but it also hedges the risk since mild winters may inspire people to ride bikes. Other seasonal entrepreneurs start a new business altogether in the off months. Nancy Swenson and Craig White, owners of Beach Farm Inn, a Wells, Maine, bed-and-breakfast, earn 75 percent of the $75,000 to $100,000 of the inn’s annual revenue between the Fourth of July and Labor Day. A rainy summer, Ms. Swenson says, can take a sizable bite out of revenue. While the couple offers various off-season promotions (like cooking-class weekends) to rev up the inn’s guest numbers, they’ve started another venture in the winter months. Mr. White turned a woodworking hobby into a business making wooden furniture. He now makes $30,000 to $40,000 between December and March selling his handmade furniture — or nearly half of the total revenue generated annually by the inn. He uses the inn to help market the furniture, since the rooms are furnished with many of his crafts. “There are years where the weather is terrible or things happen in the world that you just can’t control,” Mr. White says. “Having that extra income…acts as a buffer.”

Market Creatively

Some seasonal businesses are able to extend their season by finding creative ways to get customers interested in their offerings year-round.

Wayne Bronner, owner of Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, a Frankenmuth, Michigan, Christmas decor store with 260 year-round employees, finds he can keep visitors buying Christmas goods all year by tying promotions and marketing to timely holidays and seasons throughout the year. In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, for instance, he decks out the front of the store with ornaments displaying messages for mothers. In summer, the store plays up wedding-inspired gifts, such as Bronner’s Newlywed’s Ornament Collection, a gift set of 12 ornaments for newly married couples that sells for $67.99.

He also offers sales and discounts in the off-season to spur more sales. For Valentines Day, he has a “14-14” sale — 14% off any item that costs more than $14. The store uses quirky advertising on billboards to attract summer travelers who might be looking for a fun stopover. The store “markets the novelty of shopping for Christmas decorations in July,” Mr. Bronner says.

Seasonality doesn’t have to mean no cash or nothing to do. In fact, if you look at it as a time to turn up your workload it can mean new products. HEAT is a perfect BioZyme® example. Historically in June and July our sales would drop to about 20 percent from normal. HEAT has almost gotten those months right up with all the others.   

Go get ‘em tigers!

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