Page 1

Business Improvement Prospectus Edition 1, 2013

Business Improvement Prospectus Edition 1, 2013 Business Improvement: what is it and who can we help?

Page 3

Performance Improvement through Benchmarking

Page 4

Farm Business and Food Marketing Page 6 Soil Management Page 7 Learning From Others Across the Globe

Page 8

Next Generation Farmers Page 9 The Big Food Group Page 11 Who are the Associate Consultants? Page 12

“I thought your Building Resilience (the first Big Food Group Event held on the 31st January 2013) discussion was really brilliant – fascinating and so informative. One of the best, if not the very best, discussion groups I have ever attended.” Lady Caroline Cranbrook OBE.

Booking and Further Information If you are interested in any of the courses in this document or and would like to find out more or book a place please e-mail or call Michael Mack on 07720 496510 or Keith Barriball on 07917 435899.


Business Improvement: what is it and who can we help?

This prospectus aims to provide you with an overview of the work undertaken by the Business Improvement department at Smiths Gore. The Business Improvement department is dedicated to building the skills and expertise of the people behind the businesses which make up the rural economy. The delivery of formal training courses, coaching, mentoring and consultancy are all used and we adapt the approach based on the needs of individual businesses.

Keith Barriball Head of Business Improvement t 07917 435899

Michael Mack Business Improvement t 07720 496510

All costs are subject to VAT. The course itinerary, speakers and venue may be subject to change at the discretion of Smiths Gore. This project is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded (or financed) by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas. To be eligible to receive this funding you need to conform to set eligibility criteria which can be found at

Performance Improvement through Benchmarking How many business leaders can honestly say what impact a management decision has had on their business’ performance? To answer these questions you need to be able to see how the business was functioning before the decisions, how the business is performing in relation to its peers and how the business changes after the decisions have been made. Benchmarking of the business against time and against other similar businesses significantly helps the managers to make decisions. Smiths Gore runs benchmarking clubs and programmes across all core farming enterprises. These groups generally contain 6 to 15 people and meet between 2 and 5 times a year. On the next page Keith Barriball has answered some of the common issues and questions raised by farmers and rural business about Benchmarking.

“Smiths Gore’s benchmarking programmes not only look at how the businesses perform but also support the businesses to set plans in place to improve performance, long lasting business improvements are achieved”, Andy King, Coombe Farm milk pool manager has been working on benchmarking the milk suppliers to Coombe for 3 years.


All businesses are different; you will not be able to compare my businesses with others. All businesses ARE unique. The benefit of the benchmarking process is that it facilitates a focus on the priority areas affecting performance and profitability and enables management to be focused on Business Improvement in those areas. The group format, also enables us to understand and share best practice, and to benefit from the experiences of others, and thus accelerating improvement within our own business. I am uncomfortable with sharing confidential information with my competitors. This is not necessary. We function on the basis of confidentiality and confidence within the group. Feedback data is only presented on an individual basis where there is full agreement within a group to do so. Usually feedback data only identifies group or national mid range averages, and top and bottom quartile averages. Where data such as Rental costs are sensitive to individuals standard notional data based on our own firm’s research data is used instead. Figures can also be presented on a “pre interest cost” basis to protect confidentiality relating to debt and loan structures. Who will see my information? The individual producer data is only ever seen by the group facilitator and the staff member processing the data. It is only shared with other group members as an “open book” discussion with unanimous agreement of all group members. We also operate a strict code of confidentiality within firm. I don’t want everyone to know what I do badly. It is up to individuals to disclose such information. Our facilitators and consultants are sensitive to this and would not seek to highlight such individual issues without the producer having first brought such points in to the discussion. How much of an improvement in my business should I achieve? We challenge ourselves and all producers to identify an improvement programme equivalent to 10% of the market price (assuming external factors such as input costs to remain static). Where we have been working with groups over a period of time we are confident that the majority of producers can achieve this. We also work to achieve “quick wins” and focus on those areas of output and cost which are likely to generate highest reward for the investment in management time. Smiths Gore currently run benchmarking clubs across much of England and would be interested to hear from anyone who would like to join an existing group. Similarly if you would like to get a group of fellow producers together with the aim of benchmarking performance we are able to create new groups.

Farm Business and Food Marketing A core competence for any business is the ability to sell what it produces as profitably as it can. Smiths Gore has a number of courses which are targeted at both farming and food businesses to develop technical and managerial skills in the area of business. •

Make Your Website Work: content creation and management: Whether creating your agricultural business website from scratch or upgrading, you need the skills and inspiration to create and manage the content.

Being seen and heard over your competitors: In the business of selling agricultural and food goods and services, as in every other sector, competition is fierce. Having clear and compelling messages and getting them seen and heard, remembered and acted upon is what matters. This training will boost confidence, clarify marketing messages and the business stories that sell and lead to increased competitiveness and sales.

Camera, Shoot, Action for Agriculture: This practical course focuses on straightforward ways to distil your message and then plan, shoot, edit and share a short film that conveys it to your target audience. The course will include generating and managing online interest in agri-films and how they can help market what you do. As part of the training you will make a short film of your own and receive three hours of one to one mentoring Farm Shop Conference to take your skills to the next level. Diary Dates Farm Shop Conference, Ensuring Your Shop’s Future: These Midlands unique events will be complemented with a fourth event Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire being run by Tastes of Anglia. Each conference will run over 10th and 11th June two days and focus on the key marketing tools available to ensure your farm shop is prospering. The first day will South of England include visits to four farm shops to see real life case studies. Tulleys Farm, West Sussex The second day will include expert speakers to provide 17th and 18th June technical and managerial guidance helping each attendee to implement the lessons when they return to their own (Partner event run by Tastes of business. Anglia) East of England Achieving Business Growth through Marketing: This Newmarket programme is designed to develop an understanding of 14th and 15th October the sales and marketing process with a view to developing new customer base and increasing the product and service North of England offering to established customers. It is particularly pertinent Venue to be confirmed to those involved in developing and growing new products 21st and 22nd October and service lines and would typically appeal to those seeking to add value to farm gate products and services.


Soil Management Issues such as soil management, nutrient availability in regards to both artificial and natural fertilisers and the use of agricultural chemicals are significant issues which all farming businesses, whether arable or livestock, need to understand. Working with a range of expert Associate Consultants, Smiths Gore are pleased to be able to offer the following courses: •

Building Soil Fertility: New approaches to building soil fertility are focusing on holistic soil nutrition and specifically, the importance of organic matter to soil functioning. Farmers are using Albrecht soil analysis techniques so that they can better appraise the nutrient requirements of crops based on predicted nutrient uptake efficiencies.

Mob Grazing: Mob grazing fulfils the principles of ‘sustainable intensification’ as it is an approach to grazing management which increases production per hector and also delivers environmental benefit as a result of increased organic matter and species richness, both above and below the soil surface. It can reduce input costs and leads to lower dependency of grassland farms on bought in feed. By training farmers in the use of this approach, they will be given the opportunity to apply the findings to their own farm situation.

Improving Environmental Performance: This course provides training on several key environmental issues which will allow farmers to improve the environmental performance of their farm. It will include a module enabling farmers to deliver maximum environmental value from their Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ELS, OELS and HLS) and as a result, ensure that the schemes are providing benefit for public funds. It will also enable farmers to promote the value of the environmental benefits that the farm produces, thus providing them with a selling point for their products.

Learning From Others across the Globe The Business Improvement team in Smiths Gore have seen at first hand the value of what is gained by visiting farming businesses across the world. The team is very keen to enable more farmers to experience the value of undertaking study trips. Kenya: Associate Consultant Susie Emmett is in the final phases of agreeing the detail of a study trip to Kenya to explore how both international farming businesses and small scale farms are dealing with supplying European markets. The study trip will last seven days and is due to depart early November. The trip and flights will cost a trainee approximately £1,200.

Study tour leader Susie Emmett says “In the UK we are often quick to criticise imported food such as green beans from Kenya, and the African farmers and systems that grow it. But in a decade of rapid expansion, growing into a multimillion pound export industry, the farms in Kenya that grow in challenging climatic conditions, and to exacting standards, now have extraordinarily good agricultural and environmental practice to share.” China: Working with the University of East Angla and UK-China Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network, Smiths Gore are investigating the possibility of taking a study tour to China to explore how farm and food products can be exported in to China. New Zealand: Associate Consultant Richard Rampton escorted a study trip to New Zealand in 2012. The 18 attendees found the 10 days programme immensely valuable with at least one changing his sheep breeding as a direct result of the trip. Smiths Gore is looking to host a trip in early 2014 targeted towards the dairy sector. Brussels: The impact Brussels has on British agriculture means it is a ‘must visit’ for every serious farmer. A programme is in development to enable farmers to understand and challenge how politics and European policy impacts on UK farming businesses. f you are interested in finding out about any of these study tours or would like to explore the options of Smiths Gore helping develop a trip to different locations, then please contact the Business Improvement team.


Next Gener ation Farmers The farming industry in its widest sense is a dynamic sector which attracts talented individuals. The work undertaken through industry initiatives such as Open Farm Sunday and FACE or more local actions such as the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association Spring Fling, place farming as an industry that leads in engaging with the public and promoting itself. However the move from working in the allied industries to becoming a ‘farmer’ is challenging. Issues such as access to finance and land, succession, red tape, current FBTs and their tax implications all influence the access routes for new entrants. The Business Improvement teamat Smiths Gore is working on a number of activities which each aim to support the next generation of farmers through their journey into farming: The Next Generation of Farmers Smiths Gore is in the final stages of setting up a management programme targeted at new managers in farming. If you are moving through the process of succession in a family business, taking on more management responsibilities in a farming business you work for, would like to set up your own farming business or would like to further your farm management career the programme will be designed to give you the skills and confidence to succeed. The programme will include dedicated training sessions on different aspects of management and farming including: leading a business, farm accounts and setting performance targets, marketing of niche and commodity products and managing soils. The first event will look at how you need to view a business as a leader, rather than an employee. The session will explore how you are viewed as a manager both internally and externally to the business and provide the skills and tools needed to take on business leadership roles and responsibilities. Succession The Smiths Gore Business Improvement team is actively engaged in delivering Development programmes, family coaching and consultancy in Family, Business and Generational Succession. John Baker from Iowa State University will be running a workshop with the Business Improvement team in July looking at farm succession planning. John is a leading figure internationally having consulted, researched and written a book on succession planning

Industry wide discussions As part of the Big Food Group the next event on the 4th June will look at the question of ‘Should we be concerned that farming is the ageing stage in the UK food supply chain?’. Speakers at the event include David Heath MP Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, David Fursdon chair of Defra’s Future of Farming Review, Dr Matt Lobley and William Lawrence chairs of the Next Generation Policy Forum, NFU. More details can be found on page 11. Tenancy Support Programmes Securing a Farm Business Tenancy does not only come down to the rent you offer, you also need to understand what the land owner is looking for in a tenant and make sure your application fulfils these objectives. Smiths Gore runs a dedicated tenancy training event which land owners offer to perspective new tenants. The next of its type is being run for Norfolk County Council on the 25th May as part of the letting of a range of both whole farms and bare land lets. Anyone interested in applying for one of the farms or would like to find out more about taking on a county council small holding should contact the course booking office (details on page 2).


The Big Food Group The Big Food Group has been created in partnership between Smiths Gore, LEAF and the John Innes Centre to provide farming and food businesses with a forum where key issues affecting them and how they work in the food supply chain can be debated in a confidently environment. Our collective commitment to the group is: • • •

To identify key issues which are important to you. To attract industry leading speakers that will challenge your perception of the issue. To provide an environment which stimulates debate across all who attend.

The first event, held in January challenged the attendees and the speakers to explore the concept of food security and resilience. The speakers during the afternoon provided everyone with views from farmers, academics, scientists and food supply chain businesses about how England’s supply chains will see increased pressure from international trade from the Far East and China, competition for farm inputs and climate change. The key issues which will be debated at future events are: •

Farming: Who are the Next Generation of Farmers?: 4th June, Farmers and Fletchers Hall, London. There is much talk around the issue of new entrants to farming, with action being taken in many different forms. But the question which the group will explore is whether an ageing farming sector is an issue or not. Speakers already confirmed for the session include David Heath MP Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Dr Matt Lobly, who has lead the international farm transfer study over the last 10 years, and David Fursdon who chairs the Future of Farming Review for Defra.

Improving trust throughout the supply chain: October 15th . The impact of the horsemeat scandal has highlighted the need to ensure that there is trust along the supply chain from input to end consumer. This discussion will explore the concept of trust. Grocery Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon CBE and Peter Kendall President of the NFU will both explore a prominent role in the debate.

How can farmers and scientists work together? November. The Agri Tech Strategy is due to be issued and the EU is frantically working on the Horizon 20:20 science programme. But the impact of these can only be maximised if science and agriculture work together and speak the same language. This session will explore the current links between science and agriculture to see how communication can be improved.

Water: Making Every Drop Count: December. Access to water across the supply chain will impact on farmers, food processors and consumers. The question that has to be asked is how we manage water to maximise its value to society.

Each event costs £50 to attend and has limited attendance to ensure that every one is able to take part in the discussion and engage with the speakers. If you would like to be informed of, or attend future events please contact Michael Mack.

Who are the Associate Consultants? Smiths Gore’s Business Improvement team is headed up in England by Keith Barriball and Michael Mack. They are supported by a number of internal specialists and an excellent team of Associate Consultants, each of whom are experts in their own topics and experienced in both the development and delivery of training and support programmes. The Associate Consultants are: •

Chloe Palmer: Based in the Peak District, Chloe runs an environmental consultancy which maximises her skills in Farm Environmental Advice built during 12 years as the regional director for FWAG in the North of England. Chloe also brings to Smiths Gore skills in soil management and communications through her experience as a freelance journalist. Chloe is a Nuffield Scholar and studied ‘A Sustainable Future for Hill Farming’. David Hughes: David has recently left Clydesdale Bank to set up his on consultancy focusing on farm business finance, executive recruitment and skills delivery. David’s own experience in farm business finance and financial management through working as the senior partner for Agribusiness at Clydesdale ensure that he can help business identify real business solutions. England Marketing: England Marketing was established in 1995 and is based near Cambridge. The company has a proven track record in the delivery of market research that ensures its clients gain a better understanding of their customers to drive repeat business and enhance satisfaction. Jan and Fiona bring skills in the delivery of training to support businesses to better understand their customers. Judy Randon: Judy of Cassava Ltd is an experienced coach and mentor to people working in the food and drink industry. Her own industry experience in agriculture, production horticulture, landscape, food and drink manufacturing and farm diversification projects provides her with the background to understand the very specific types of training these industries require. Lindsey Mack: Lindsey is an experienced business coach focusing on leadership and business strategy. Educated in farm management, Lindsey looks after the family farm and has founded both a training company The Forum Partnership Ltd and Zaviour Limited, a Technology Company providing a service called CloudQast which focuses on systems for virtual learning. Richard Rampton: Richard has a life time of experience built through managing farm businesses in the UK and worldwide and delivering farm extension programmes across Europe. Having retired from Easton College in 2012 he has established a small consultancy focusing on farm business change, grant funding and business coaching. Stephen Harris: Stephen is a specialist in training covering direct and senior management programmes. Steve works with many international organisations such as Rolls Royce, BAe, Cahoot, The Open University, the Co-operative Group and Warwick University. He currently holds responsibility for Quality and Curriculum issues for the Co-operative College in Manchester Susie Emmett: Susie is a remarkable communicator following 15 years of presenting the BBC World Service’s ‘Farming World’ programme. She has developed a media business which has a dedicated side focusing on building the communication skills of farmers from across the UK. She led the development of the LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) ‘Speak Out’ initiative and designed, developed and delivered training events for more than a 1000 UK farmers 2007-2011. 12

Business Improvement Prospectus 2013 20/05/13  

Business Improvement Prospectus 2013 20/05/13

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you