Dealer Spotlight: Shnurman Sire Service, LLC and SP Genetics LLC

Isaiah Shnurman is a researcher. When he and his family decided to open Shnurman Sire Service, LLC & SP Genetics LLC, a reproductive and embryo transfer (E.T.) facility four years ago in central Iowa, he started exploring the best nutrition he could provide bulls, donors and recips coming to this new facility. The research pointed to BioZyme ® products, and after he saw the results first-hand he joined the dealer network.

“We were looking to fortify the nutritional side of our facility,” Shnurman said. “We really started leaning toward Concept•Aid ® and other VitaFerm® products because they are the most tried, true, proven with research when it comes to numbers and being able to have university data to back up these products. We weren’t going to promote something or use something that wasn’t going to work for us.”

The research behind the BioZyme products assists Shnurman in providing exceptional customer service by showing how to increase efficiencies and profits through a nutrition program. He said any time that producers can learn ways to save money, they are willing to learn, especially when it has real-world data to back it up.

“When it comes to nutrition, anything in the cattle business comes down to dollars and cents and even if we see a 1-2% increase across the board on something we’re using – in the long run that does pay off. With Amaferm ® in the products we are seeing an 8-10% increase in efficiency. On one animal that might not sound like a lot, but on a few thousand, you’re talking about making those cattle more efficient and more productive across the board,” he said.

In addition to the research and data, Shnurman said it has been rewarding to see the products work on the cattle at their facility. He houses and collects some of the most-well known A.I. sires in the business, including the $800,000 Angus bull, SAV Elation. All bulls are on Concept•Aid and Vita Charge ® Stress Tubs. He said the Amaferm advantage in these products has maximized the bulls’ abilities nutritionally to get better quality semen from them.

Education and communication go hand-in-hand for Shnurman. He sends out customer newsletters twice a year with information about new products, what is happening those particular times of year, thanks his customers for their continued business and reminds them he is there for their nutrition needs.

He also hosts producer meetings twice a year. These are more in-depth than the newsletter and offer timely advice about calving, calf resuscitation (CPR) during calving, mating decisions at breeding time, and cow-herd and bull nutrition for increased fertility.

Although newsletters and meetings are good methods of communication, Shnurman says nothing can replace a good face-to-face meeting with a producer at his or her operation, something he tries to do with his all his customers.

“The most important thing a dealer can do is actually go out and visit with their customers and look at cattle with them. Going out and taking a couple of hours out of your day to visit with them about their program will be helpful. They might consider one thing a nutritional hole in their program, but if you go out and actually visit with them, you can learn a lot and helpfully fill in some other holes in their program where they can use some other nutritional fortification.”

In the fall, after harvest is complete, he’ll start working with his customers on forage testing. He said he tests a lot of corn stalk bales to see how those residues will work as a nutritional resource. Then, he starts hay testing to see what nutrients the hay is lacking so the producers can plan their supplementation protocols before the need to feed hay begins. That might be a little more challenging this year according to Shnurman, as good quality hay is at a premium with the early drought and then the excessive rains leading to low production. He knows that everyone faces different challenges and has different goals, and that is what he appreciates about the BioZyme products.

“Not every product we have is for everyone. But we have a product that will do something good for every operation out there,” Shnurman said.

Customer service – making sure all of his customers are happy – is his number one goal. And right behind that is making VIP Dealer Status. With the way that he studies the research, reaches out to his customers and provides top-notch service, Shnurman is well on his way to VIP.

Share Your Story

It’s the anniversary dance at a friend’s wedding. The emcee announces for all married couples to gather on the dance floor. Immediately, the newlyweds are seated, being the most recently married. Then in five-or 10-year increments, couples are dismissed by the number of years they have been married. One couple remains, dancing hand-in-hand like they have for 57 wonderfully wedded years. Don’t you wonder what their story is? What is the secret to their success?

And now you’re wondering what that story has to do with being in business or more specifically the animal nutrition business. The point is, everyone has a story. Everyone, including you. And it is time to tell your story.

According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 28 million small businesses, making up 99.7% of all U.S. businesses. That makes your story one in 28 million! Do you know your story? Do you have a 3-minute “elevator” speech to share with someone if you were mingling at a party or at a networking function where you didn’t know others in the room? Think about it. What is your story? What makes you unique? And I know there is something unique about each and every one of our dealers.

First, determine what your story is. Perhaps, you are an equine enthusiast who became passionate about the products and want to share the products with all of your friends at the barn, show, rodeo, etc… Or, you might be a second-generation dealer who is taking over the reins of the family business – the farm and the feed dealership. Maybe, you are young person who felt there was a void in your “neighborhood” for a high-quality mineral program.

Once you determine what your story is and why you’re passionate about helping animals and their owners, determine who your audience is. Obviously, it is your customers. But, there are potential customers in your everyday lives too. Chances are your doctor or dentist has a dog or maybe even a horse. Do they know that you sell a product that can improve the health and well-being of their four-legged friends? And what about the local service organizations? Rotary, Kiwanis, Sertoma. Those groups are always looking for local businesspeople to come share their stories and how they are involved in the local community. Reach out to them to get on their calendar.

How will you tell your story? Of course, speaking engagements and one-on-one conversations are great. But you probably won’t be able to talk to everyone at one time so use other methods to share your story. Share it on social media. What do you do at the feed store on a daily basis? Did you go out to a customer’s ranch and take forage samples to send in? Document that with pictures to share on Facebook, Instagram or your business web site. People are interested. They have a desire to know what you are doing and how you do it. Explain the process. If you have customer newsletter, devote part of that to your story. Or work with your local paper to have a regular column in it to talk about agriculture and animal health – another great way to share what you are doing.

No, it isn’t always easy to talk about ourselves. And we might not think what we do on a daily basis matters. But remember, as a business you are one in 28 million. You have a story. Share it with those around you. You might be amazed at the positive feedback you receive.

How Employee Personality Profiles Can Save You Turnover Loss

If you’ve ever read the book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, you will understand getting the “right people in the right seats on the bus.” Companies don’t fail because they have bad employees, employees that aren’t trained properly or employees that don’t have the right personality. Companies fail because they don’t have the right people “in the right seats.” In other words, they have great employees, but perhaps they don’t have them in positions where they were meant to succeed.

Employee turnover is costly. There is no real way to measure it; you have the time and effort it takes to promote the vacant position, another employee has to fill in, resulting in decreased productivity; if the employee that left was one that others liked and respected, other employee morale could be down, also resulting in lowered performance or even causing others to leave their jobs. By the time you replace one employee that already understood your company culture and policies, recruit, hire and train a replacement employee, you are looking at spending thousands of dollars, and potentially having lost revenue due to losses in employee performance.

In his book, Collins talks about getting people in the positions that they are best suited for. Sometimes a company will hire someone on the premise that that person thinks they know their skill strengths, but they might not always realize their personality strengths and weaknesses. Although personality assessment does take time and money, the investment is typically one that pays off in the end and is less costly than employees leaving and having to recruit, hire and train.

At BioZyme, the employees took the Prism assessment. The results revealed insights into the employees “Emotional, Relational and Team Intelligence (ERT-i). This highly relevant and transformative data will provide you with critical information to impact your personal and professional performance, productivity and success.” In other words, the report likely told each individual things he or she already knew. However, it is an opportunity to let others within the company know more about how to work with each other and for supervisors to make sure they have the right people in the right seats on the bus.

Prism is just one of many assessments that companies can utilize. There are many options available at a variety of price points. Some come with further training while others provide a report and guidance on how to use that report.

So just how important is personality? As Virgin Mobile CEO Richard Branson put it, “Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.”

Let’s look at this example. For one Ohio-based company, taking a personality assessment helped its Human Resources and Management teams get people in the right positions. They discovered the person they had working the phones in a marketing customer support role was an extreme introvert. And while his degree was in marketing, he had a passion for graphic design. The company moved him into a design position where he could better use his talents and had no interaction with customers. He became very successful in his job. The same company discovered they had an employee who was very outgoing who hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to customers. They moved her into that customer support role, working on the phones. Not only did her career flourish, but customer satisfaction improved too.

Employee satisfaction and attrition go hand-in-hand. You can save the time and expense of employee turnover by making sure you have the right people in the right positions.

How Employee Strengths Help Serve Customers

Customers are the backbones of our businesses. They are the reasons we have a business, after all. And many customers are friends first or become good friends over time. They deserve the best when it comes to customer service, and you want to provide the best to them.

However, it might be that not every employee you have is programmed to provide the customer service your customers expect. And that is ok. Every person has some strength or strengths that make them a valuable part of your team, and it is important to evaluate those strengths, communicate those strengths to them in the form of affirmation and use those strengths to be an important part of your team.

Perhaps you have an employee that is impeccable at cleaning, stocking shelves and maintaining inventory, but finds conversation with others mundane or even uncomfortable. Keep that employee in the back to clean and stock, and only use for customer service if someone needs help loading product.

On the other hand, perhaps you’ve hired someone to load out product and stock shelves, that never can complete the assigned task because he or she is always talking to customers and making product recommendations. That person clearly needs to be in a customer service role. Typically, extroverts who enjoy helping others make great customer service reps.

But what does this have to do with overall customer satisfaction? Employees who are doing what they are good at, show up and are engaged and will provide better service. Better service leads to increased customer satisfaction.

According to an article by Stuart Hearn on www.brandquarterly.com: “A 2016 Gallup poll showed that strength-based companies enjoy more profit, better sales, and higher levels of customer engagement. In large part, this is due to the fact that when employees feel positive about their performance, and they are able to work to their strengths, they feel more engaged, and are therefore more passionate about their company and their work. They’re also more invested, meaning they go that extra mile to ensure customers have a great experience. Employee engagement has been termed the ‘wonder drug for customer satisfaction,’ so every time you emphasize strengths in your employees, you should remember the domino effect it creates.”

It all goes back to getting the right people in the right positions. Capitalize on employee strengths to make sure your customers have the best service around. Customers can go anywhere to buy feed and mineral, but make sure they are coming back to your business to get the best customer service that they deserve!

October 2018 – Letters From Lisa

PEOPLE DRIVE CULTURE. CULTURE DRIVES PERFORMANCE.

Let’s look at these sentences backwards. Business is all about performance, so business is all about culture. And therefore, business is all about people. I believe whole-heartedly that every business is not about its product, its location, or its finances. Businesses are about people.

I also believe EVERY person wants to do good and make others happy (pretty simple), but communication and personality routinely get in the way (pretty complex) of that. How we work through this dynamic is obviously very important since all a business really has to help it succeed is its people.

Finding more of the right people has been a challenge for BioZyme ® , so we have had to reach out for some help. A recruiting company we are working with suggested we implement their personality assessment system to screen potential hires. They encourage this approach because there is proof that assessment-based hiring is more profitable and productive. I was thinking this was a great idea and trying to figure out how to get it going when I stumbled across a “60 Minutes” episode on a guy who is cloning previously successful polo horses in Argentina. Luckily, we have quite a few folks I would like to clone. So, thinking in that frame of mind and then realizing the value of understanding who we might be hiring and how they fit into that team; I thought assessing our entire current team might be a great idea to advance this journey of simple/complex where people drive culture and culture drives performance.

The tool is called the Prism. It analyzes more than 50 human traits and skills across seven integrated modules, including: Primary Personality; Personality Under Pressure; Processing; Decision Making; Conflict Management; Motivation; and Fundamental Needs. It has been a great experience for us. Our coach used me and Alan Lee to help our team understand the results on all of these points. I won’t share them all with you, but I do want you to see a little bit of what he and I learned about each other (it won’t surprise you). We are completely different on three of the four processing measurements. As two visionaries who are very driven to grow our Company, understanding this about one another in concrete terms has been very helpful when working on opportunities.

I have learned four very useful things from this experience:

1. No two people are the exactly the same.

2. No one is exactly the same as me. Thank goodness I know, but this is important for me to remember so I walk in others’ shoes and then join our shoes together before making decisions.

3. Most people, but not all, act differently under pressure.

4. Self-reflection and then thinking about the reality of that reflection in how one operates are very important each and every second of every day when working with a team.

Dealer Spotlight: Paul’s Feed & Seed

There is no task too big or too small for Paul Delbridge when it comes to his customers. And when they make a request, his mission is to make sure their needs are met. The owner of Paul’s Feed & Seed in Faith S.D., had such a request last year, and with the help of his Area Sales Manager Guy Rusche, the mission was accomplished.

Delbridge had two customers, Ryan Vig and Bart Carmichael, come to him and ask for him to produce a range cake that included a complete mineral package. The customers were already feeding VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® 5/S but wanted it to be part of their range cake. Delbridge said that many feed companies offer a cake or cube with a partial mineral package, but that is not what his customers wanted. So, he and Rusche went to work.

“I knew the Farmers & Rancher’s Co-op made a cake out of dried distiller’s grain, and that is what they wanted,” Delbridge said. “So, I contacted them to see if they could add the Concept•Aid to it, and they said they could.”

Just 280 miles south of Faith in Alliance, Neb., the Farmers & Rancher’s Co-op makes the range cakes with the ingredients that the customers were looking for. Delbridge said the two customers had good luck with the product last year. One customer is a cow-calf producer and the other was developing coming-yearling bulls. He predicts the product will be even more popular this year when producers in his area start feeding the range cake – typically November through March.

“The way we figured it, this was even more cost-effective feeding in the cake versus as a free-choice mineral. Plus, we know each animal was meeting their daily requirements by eating the cake,” Delbridge said.

Although this was his first “special request,” Delbridge was glad he could find a solution for his customers. He’s always glad to find a way to help the producers in his area achieve their goals.

“Snack & Savings” Get Mineral Message to Farmers

Nebraska ranks second in the nation in total cow-calf production, only behind Texas. However, when late spring and early summer roll around, most farmers and ranchers have just one thing on their minds – planting and irrigating crops. Taylor Ruether, Area Sales Manager for Nebraska, was working with a few of her dealers to come up with an innovative way to get in front of farmers during their busy season, when the “Snack & Savings” approach was created.

“One dealership gave me the idea to do this, because I was wanting to work with him, and he kept saying, ‘It’s farming season, you can’t catch any body right now.’ So, I was trying to come up with a way to get in front of farmers during their busy season,” Ruether said.

Snack & Savings gave Ruether and her dealers the opportunity to get in front of farmers – bringing them either a sack lunch that included a sandwich, chips and a drink, or a mid-afternoon snack of a cold-drink and either a bag of chips or a candy bar. Included with the snack was a product guide and a coupon for any VitaFerm® product.

Ruether made this opportunity available to any of her dealers who wanted to set up appointments to meet with customers and potential customers. She had a couple of dealers who really grasped the concept and spent a couple of days with a cooler of water and sodas and met with farmers to remind them about summer mineral programs.

“We felt like it was a good way to give back to farmers when they are crazy and hectic, and it did get most of them to stop and talk to us, even if it was just to remind them about BioZyme. No one usually turns down a pop and a bag of chips. The beautiful thing about this promotion is, if someone didn’t use the coupon, it didn’t really cost anything,” she said.

The Snack & Savings trips were a good investment in time. Ruether said that dealers did make some Sure Champ® Extreme and VitaFerm® HEAT® sales while talking to the famers. Follow-up appointments have resulted in interest in the VitaFerm® Gain Smart® program.

Ruether will work with her dealers again on similar promotions and marketing efforts, taking the message to the customers. She feels the efforts are worthwhile and she will encourage more dealer involvement. She also learned that chips are the preferred snack over candy bars.

“Anytime you do stuff like this, the more people expect it, and the better response you have. We’ve had some follow-up, and that was worth our time and effort,” she said.

Selling a Program Increases Profit

It’s a great feeling when you find a customer that is loyal to a BioZyme® product. But it can be an even greater feeling for you, your customer and both of your bottom lines, when you can convince that customer to buy into an entire program from BioZyme.

Many customers are satisfied with the results of VitaFerm® Concept•Aid®, which is mineral designed to help increase reproductive performance when fed 60 days pre-calving through 60 days post-breeding. Like all BioZyme products, it contains Amaferm®, a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply within for maximum performance. Amaferm is also research-proven to increase the energy available to the animal resulting in more milk production as well as to the ability to initiate and maintain pregnancy and fertility. But what about the time of year when producers don’t normally feed mineral – most likely those summer months? Then, you can encourage your customers feeding Concept•Aid to feed VitaFerm HEAT®, which will help reduce heat stress in the herd, which also helps maintain pregnancy.

If you have 10 customers with 40 cows each, and you sell them Concept•Aid 5/S for two-thirds of the year, you have the potential to make roughly $14,860 dollars. But where is your profit during the hot summer months? Selling those same 10 customer with 40 head VitaFerm HEAT for 120 days could land you an additional $7,420 of profit. That’s a total of $22,280 profit on 10

customers for the year. And let’s face it, most dealers have more than 10 customers. And that HEAT mineral is going to help the cows maintain pregnancy, which produces more live calves for them to market the following year, making it worth their investment in the program.

Just like there is added value to both you and the producer for investing in a year-round nutrition program for your cows, you and the producer will also find added value when investing in the three-step VitaFerm® Sure Start® weaning program or VitaFerm® Gain Smart® Stocker Program. Yes, it might be easy for a producer to buy Gain Smart or a Vita Charge® Stress Tub to put their calves on when weaned or turned out to grass. But did you know that if a producer uses one of our three-step programs, he or she can further reduce illness and get those calves back on feed and water sooner? This means they are putting on pounds of gain more efficiently and growing faster for the producer. Marketing the program will help your checkbook, but it will also help the producer in saving money on vet bills and helping calves realize gains faster.

The Sure Start weaning program includes a single dose of Vita Charge Drench or Paste upon weaning. The second step includes feeding Sure Start pellets to the calves for 14 to 28 days to help encourage them to come to the bunk and eat. After those first 2-3 weeks, you can begin to increase digestibility and maximize the energy value of your cattle’s feed with either the cow-calf mineral or the Gain Smart mineral.

The Gain Smart Stocker Program has a very similar approach to keeping calves healthy and on feed during this stressful transition period in their lives. Step one includes include giving the calves Vita Charge Drench within 48 hours of receiving to help stimulate the cattle’s immune system while allowing for maximum effectiveness of vaccinations. Step two provides the Vita Charge Stress Tub for 14 to 21 days to promote feed and water intake. The tubs also provide MOS that helps trap bad bacteria limiting their ability to do harm. And the Stress Tubs increase digestibility to maximize the energy value of feed for more gains. The final step in the program is selecting the right Gain Smart mineral for your operation and feeding program to accurately supplement those minerals lacking in the pasture and rectify mineral imbalances. Gain Smart will help maintain calf health and immunity, hoof health and support gain, once again helping the producer meet his or her goals quicker with fewer expenses.

The more times you can sell a program, the more you will help your customers meet their goals, but you will also help yourself meet your financial goals. Remember, it’s nice to sell a product, but it’s even nicer to put more profit into your dealership by selling a program.

How to Upsell and Cross-Sell to Existing Customers

Does it ever feel like you have saturated the market and you’ve got all the customers you’re going to get? Your sales are steady, but you’d really like to see them increase for a couple of months. Your customers seem happy with the products they are using; but do you think there’s something missing that your customers haven’t tried?

Perhaps there is something missing – something in your sales technique. Upselling and cross-selling are two techniques that you can use to help increase sales with the existing customer base you have already established. Although they are similar in nature with a similar outcome, the techniques are slightly different. One web site offers the following definitions: Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a comparable higher-end product than the one in question, while cross-selling invites customers to buy related or complementary items.

Vita Charge® should be one of the easiest product lines to cross-sell. This all-species product that supports digestive health and promotes feed and water intake is designed for times of stress and recovery. There is no reason that every customer shouldn’t have some form of Vita Charge, or even multiple forms.

“Regardless of the animal you are caring for, they can have a bad day, and that is exactly what these products are meant for. No matter why you are interacting with a current or potential customer these products will benefit every animal during those times of stress. These products are a perfect addition to a current product sale or used as an introduction to what amazing products we have to offer,” said Trent Gabler, BioZyme Sales Coach.

No matter the species or the production goals, you should never leave a sales call without trying to cross-sell Vita Charge. Are you at a cow-calf operation? They are going to calve out cows, wean calves and likely treat for an occasional sickness. Having a few tubes of Vita Charge Paste is a part of a good management practice for those times of stress. Of course, you know the benefits of having a stress tub out with both cows and calves. And the tubs are also effective for bulls prior to and after breeding season.

What about the smaller species? Yes, the Vita Charge products are equally important for sheep, goats and hogs. Keeping Vita Charge HydraBoost in your pigs’ waterer is important, especially at weaning, and the paste is always handy for rapid relief.

Cross-selling is the simple suggestion of adding on a complementary product to something the buyer is already buying. Perhaps they are buying Vitalize® Equine High Performance Pellets. Obviously, they take great pride in taking good care of their horse’s digestive health. But what about helping that horse recover? Have you suggested they try the Vitalize® Equine Recovery Paste? Maybe they don’t know the paste exists or the benefits of the paste, but once they learn about it, they will be hooked. And don’t forget the canine line of Vitalize supplements. According to Internet statistics, 36-44% of Americans own a dog. Chances are a higher percentage of your customers in rural areas own dogs. How many of them have you told about the Vitalize® Dog supplement or Vitalize Dog Recovery Paste?

Marketing studies have shown that existing customers are 60-70% more likely to buy new products while new customers are only 5-20% likely to buy a new product. And, the existing customer is probably going to spend around 31% more. That is why cross-selling and upselling become so important. One product line that we don’t always focus on that would be a great “upsell” is the Vitalize line. We know that horse lovers will go to great lengths to give the best care to their equine companions. Maybe your customer is feeding Vitalize® Equine Free Choice, but has started showing his or her horse, or has a shortage of high-quality hay this year. Now is a great time to suggest the customer try a different Vitalize product like Equine High Performance or the Equine Protein Pellet.

“Cross selling should be very easy since you already have the customers relationship and business. The hard work is done, don’t be afraid to go after more opportunities,” Gabler said.

Remember, your existing customers already trust you. Don’t forget to upsell and cross-sell to get maximum returns from them and watch their results increase.

September 2018 – Letters from Lisa

Think outside of the box – be innovative!

In strategic planning sessions we’re often told to “think outside the box.” Neuroscientific research indicates that it becomes increasingly difficult to break out of our existing mindsets.

Therefore, thinking outside the box is never easy, nor is it a reflection of mental brightness. To leave your psychological comfort zone and explore “solutions in the unknown world on the outside requires large measures of mental agility, boldness, and creativity and/or an inspirational leader who makes life in the old box so uncomfortable that getting out is the only option.” So where does one start to get out of this box?

Make but Challenge Your Assumptions

Assumptions play a vital part in creative thinking. However, challenging those assumptions means questioning the everyday things you take for granted. “The best assumption to have is that any commonly held belief is wrong,” says Ken Olson, CEO of DEC. The natural thing to do is the thing you have always done. Every time you approach a problem you bring your accumulated experience, knowledge and training to the table. But this includes your accumulated assumptions and biases – conscious and unconscious. The more experienced you are, the more likely you are to assume outcomes by extrapolating from the known facts and experiences to predict a result. This mental baggage can prevent you from accepting innovative ideas. Don’t let that happen or you will be stuck in the box.

Ask Lots of Searching Questions

Don’t take anything for granted. Creativity requires an inquisitive mind. Unless you ask lots of “Why?” and “What If?” questions, you won’t generate the brainstorming a team needs to be innovative. Always try to look at the world through more inquisitive eyes to try and get ideas in motion.

Step Out of Your Shoes

Stepping out of your shoes and into the shoes of others may help you surface new insights to a problem. It seems us humans look at most every box through our own shoes.  Walking in the shoes of others and clearly assessing and understanding their perspective is a key to out of the box thinking.

Innovative, out of the box thinking is not easy but is perhaps one of the more important traits of a high growth, performing company. Force yourself to have the discipline to challenge, ask, listen and walk in different shoes.