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ACCOUNTING FOR PROFITS By Bob Matlick CONSULTANTS OR MANAGEMENT TEAMS? The dairy industry seems to have an abundance of “consultants” available to pro- ducers in a wide array of specialties. There are numerous consultants in the areas of vet- erinary medicine, facility layout and design, reproduction, financial and business manage- ment, nutrition, etc. Some of these services are provided at minimal or no cost by a feed supplement or pharmaceutical company while others are provided on a fee basis. And then there is always the neighbor who has a great idea or new concept they encourage a producer to try out. According to, the word “consultant” is derived from Latin: consultāns. It defines the word as “a person who gives professional or expert advice”. I am one of those so-called consultants with an expertise in financial matters as they relate to dairies. I attempt to guide and direct clients in a manner which assists them in achieving their long term financial goals, and many times I am allowed to work with consultants from other disciplines of the dairy industry. Often, we come together and form a team to achieve the overall objectives of the dairy producer. For a consultant or a consulting team to be effective, they must respect the knowledge of other consultants involved with the opera- tion. In my personal experience, I have been part of many reproduction discussions on dairies; however, I do not have the exper- tise to make recommendations as to various breeding protocols. Likewise, I would hope the reproduction consultant would not attempt to make financial recommendations to the cli- ent without someone with financial expertise involved. On many occasions, I have found that a nu- tritionist will make ration changes or suggest some kind of group feeding that may interfere with the breeding protocol of the dairy from a facility and efficiency standpoint. Likewise 18 April 2014 DAIRYBUSINESSWEST • Schedule the meetings when and where all parties can attend in person. A site away from the dairy is helpful as it keeps distrac- tions to a minimum. • Make sure the various attendees have the information needed prior to the meeting. (Herd records, feed and inventory tracking, financial information). • Make certain all of the appropriate parties are in attendance. I tend to favor only the ac- tual producer and his consulting team. There may be times a herdsman or banker may be involved; however, sometimes it may be ben- eficial to omit these parties as the appropriate parties can disseminate pertinent information after the team reaches consensus. • All the parties should be open and honest. If a consultant feels there is a problem in their the inverse may occur. And then you have the area of expertise it should be expressed to all financial consultant attempting to prepare a parties. Egos need to be checked at the door projected twelve month cash flow required by and the fear of losing a client or offending a lender without any involvement or feedback a member should not be considered by the from the nutrition or reproduction side. The consultant. If a consultant is doing their job financial consultant may also fault or criticize they are calling it how they see it, not simply the dairyman/producer that his feed expense appeasing a client. is to high or the breeding expense category is • Use a whiteboard when possible to write, high compared to a benchmark range without erase and track issues in an effort to prioritize digging further into the operation. Bottom the goals for the period. line conflicts begin to arise, limited progress • Keep the meetings to 2 hours - everyone (if any) is made by the producer and all of the is busy and interest will wane if lengthy meet- consultants are ignored. ings occur. In the past five years I have encouraged a • Keep the goal setting to two or three team approach with the consultants. That team goals for the period, and keep the goals do- usually includes the veterinarian, nutritionist, able for the period established. financial consultants to the dairy and the own- • Establish monitoring and procedures to er. By having all of the disciplines at the table, achieve tasks, and try to get consensus among it makes for spirited conversation, debate and the parties. most likely a reasonable goal setting. Using • Schedule the next meeting at the end of this type of setting, I have found that the team the current meeting. p is working towards one or two goals in a given period and success is usually achieved. ■ Bob Matlick is a partner at Frazer, Some recommendations or guidelines I LLP, Visalia, Calif. Contact him by e-mail at have found beneficial in these types of meet- or call (559)-732- ings are as follows: 4135. For a consultant or a consulting team to be effective, they must respect the knowledge of other consultants involved with the operation.
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