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ACCOUNTING FOR PROFITS
By Bob Matlick
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 Dictionary.com, 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
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,
• 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.
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- firstname.lastname@example.org 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