This past weekend I reviewed a DVD that I think every On Pasture reader should have. “The Three Secrets For Increasing Profit” is an introduction to principles from the Ranching for Profit School and features Dave Pratt of Ranch Management Consultants. I’m recommending it so highly because I think it helps On Pasture accomplish one of our primary goals: to help farmers and ranchers be more profitable.
Though the DVD can’t cover everything you’d learn if you attended a week-long Ranching for Profit School, it gives you a good feel for the topics the school covers, and a start on working on some new ways of thinking about running your operation as a business. In fact, that’s one of the first topics, Dave addresses: “Do you own a business or do you own a job?” A business owner can leave, and the business won’t suffer. But if you’ve got a job, well, you’re going to have to be there every day, rain or shine. This was a little depressing for me, as I realized that I’ve got a job, and I felt kind of bad about that.
Fortunately, Dave describes some ways we can turn our jobs into businesses. He provides real life examples of problems farmers and ranchers faced, along with ways those problems were solved. Dave is also a great teacher, doing one of the things I think is most important when trying to help people learn something new: he knows we’re uncomfortable, and maybe even feeling a little bad about our business skills, so he creates an environment where we can explore new ideas safely, and feel good about our progress. In this case, he works with participants to start a ranch from scratch so that we can get a good grip on things like overheads, fixed and variable costs, turnover, profit and loss, and more.
The whole video is just under 4 hours long. The videography and editing are great, making it a very watchable product. It’s fun because Dave knows just how many personal anecdotes are enough, and the value of asking good questions to get our brains moving. He also points out that it is always easier to solve someone else’s problem than our own. As he walks us through the steps to solve our neighbor’s problem we realize that we can often apply the solutions we found for them ourselves. Last, the content is put together in a step-by-step way that lets you make sense of new ideas as you move through the process. You can watch it in roughly 15 minute chunks if you like, giving your brain time to ruminate on the concepts.
Trying something like this, which is, after all, pretty personal, isn’t easy. But here’s why you might want to consider checking this video out:
The point behind this video, and behind Ranch Management Consultant’s work, is to get people to see things differently. Until you see things differently, you can’t do anything differently, so you do the same things and get what you’ve always gotten. The problem is, as Dave points out, that in farming and ranching input costs have gone up 5 times faster than cattle prices, so you might actually be doing worse if you keep on doing things the same old way.
So get some friends together, put on the video, eat, drink and think, and see whether there’s a way for your operation to become a more profitable business.