Amazing farmhands, great culture, and winning succession plan: Here’s how they did it.
Imagine finding two hardworking farmhands that you completely trusted…
That you could train up to do all the farm jobs…
So you have time to do things like:
- work on the high-level strategy to increase profits
- make succession plans
- even free yourself up to take multiple holidays each year
Sounds like a dream, right?
But that’s what actually happened for Tim and Cheryl Freak when they implemented our TOP Producers Model (more on that model coming soon!)
Here’s a quick look at their Return on Capital – you can see the positive trend over the last few years:
Now, taking multiple holidays each year isn’t something most farmers do. So we asked them to share their story with us during a Growth Session as part of our Platinum Mastermind.
Turns out, Tim and Cheryl are doing some very unique things in their farm (including a highly unusual succession plan that’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever heard.)
And today, I want to share 5 of the key things they did to create such incredible results for their business.
It’ll really open up and idea or two for you…
Had a strong vision (and a deadline!)
Tim, Cheryl, and I first met a few years ago at our TOP Producers Program 2-Day Workshop. Part of that workshop is thinking about your 10-year goals.
Up until that point, the Freak’s were just going along day to day, staying busy and not really thinking about where they wanted to be down the track. Sitting down to create that 10-year vision got them on the same page and gave them clarity.
They say that’s what started it all…
Over the years, they’ve been through lots of chaos and ups and downs. (Just like all farmers, right?)
But even when things get hard or challenging, they focus on the end goal of where they want to go. Even if it feels like things aren’t happening fast enough, they remember it’s just part of the journey.
They’re open to working through the challenges because they know how great it’s going to be when they achieve that 10-year picture.
Importantly, Tim and Cheryl don’t just say, “We’d like to achieve these goals someday.” They put deadlines on their goals.
Having a deadline gets everything in motion. It forces them to do things they might not feel ready for…but they know they need to finish to hit that 10-year vision.
It’s easy to use the words “fortunate” or “lucky” when describing the Freak’s situation. But I want to drop those words.
Because I believe they attracted all of these opportunities because they were ready for them. Having the right mindset, being open-minded to opportunities, believing that things can get better…that all matters a lot.
To build a farm that runs without them, Tim and Cheryl knew they’d need to hire people to help with the workload. They couldn’t keep doing it all themselves or they’d never have time for the high-level strategic work to grow the farm.
RELATED PODCAST: Why Doing the Technical Work on Your Farm is Costing You a Lot of Profit
Hiring is one of the hardest tasks for farm owners. When you’re used to doing everything yourself, it’s tricky to think about someone else coming on. You might think they won’t do it as well as you will or that you’ll make more work for yourself by having to manage them.
Even though they had the same fears, Tim and Cheryl moved forward anyway…
A few years ago, they met Aaron and Anika, a couple who were installing a new fence on the farm. They were impressed with things like:
- their work ethic and integrity
- how quickly they picked things up
- their ability to grasp the big picture (instead of getting stuck in the weeds)
Neither Aaron nor Anika had much farming experience. But the more they spoke with them, the more they could see they had a burning desire to own a farm or be involved in a farm someday.
So Tim and Cheryl took a chance…and asked the couple if they wanted to come work on the farm. They didn’t know if they’d say yes but figured…what did they have to lose by asking?
Turns out, the couple said yes. They started working on the farm part-time and three years later, it grew into full-time.
(And it’s since evolved into a really clever shared ownership situation…which we’ll talk more about in a minute.)
The key takeaway is that you can find great help even in unexpected places. So keep an open mind! Freeing up their time by hiring help is what allowed the Freak’s to do the high-level work that grew their farm business..
Documented systems…then delegated
Like most farmers, Tim used to keep almost all of his knowledge in his head. Nothing was down on paper.
But when he looked at his 10-year vision, he knew he’d need to document his systems if he wanted the farm to run without him.
So he started small…
He started approaching his daily tasks with an attitude of, “How can I teach someone else how to do this?”
At first, it felt like slowing down. It took some time to document his systems and train Aaron and Anika. But once they took over those jobs, it freed up so much of his time!
Sometimes, you need education to change direction instead of motivation to speed up. By slowing down to train his farmhands, Tim gave himself the freedom to focus on the high-level projects that sped up the success of the farm.
One of the key things in your role as a farm owner is being able to let go and let someone else do the work. Tim and Cheryl said they were able to let go and delegate so easily because they have such a strong 10-year vision.
They have so many things to tick off their bucket list and places they want to visit, but they know they can’t do that if they keep doing everything on the farm themselves.
This is a key lesson: You can’t reach your big goals if you keep doing everything yourself.
If you want to create a farm that can run without you, you need to open yourself up to letting go. That’s exactly what Tim and Cheryl have done and it’s a big reason why they’re able to work less, take holidays, and have more time to focus on high-level strategy.
Created a strong company culture
What struck me most about Tim and Cheryl’s story is their focus on creating a win-win environment for everyone involved.
It’s not about being greedy and screwing over their team members, where the farmhands lose and the owner wins. (Because in the end, as we all know, that doesn’t pan out anyway.)
The Freak’s were very keen on ensuring their team members were going to have an amazing career and an amazing future. They saw that throughout their district, a lot of farm workers were leaving their jobs. They thought the grass was always greener somewhere else. So they wanted to create a company that people wanted to work at so they could retain their workers.
One of the ways they created that great company culture was by offering to mentor Aaron and Anika, as part of their package. (…Which they said was actually pretty easy, because they took what they learned inside our Platinum Mastermind and passed that wisdom straight on to the couple!)
The young guys are just soaking it all up and are so passionate and hungry to learn. It’s allowed the Freaks to grow as leaders and the farm workers to get an incredible education. It’s the ultimate win-win.
The Freak’s say that Aaron and Anika just about feel like family now. They do really like one another! That makes them want the best for each other, which is an incredible dynamic for a team to have.
Tim and Cheryl also love the challenge of creating an environment where everyone enjoys coming to work, even though they’re working hard. Tim says his biggest problem is actually leaving the farm to go home because he likes being there so much.
Best problem on the planet, right?
RELATED PODCAST: 7 Ways to Run a World-Class Team and Master Communication in Your Business
Split their business
If you own a farm business, then really you’re two separate things:
- You’re an investor in land
- You’re the owner of a farming business
The fact that you actually run your business on your land is coincidental.
Tim and Cheryl realised this and have chosen to split their business into two separate entities (…which is one of the smartest things I’ve seen.)
They’ll continue to own and control the land, as they always have.
And they’ll also set up a new farming operations business. That business will own the sheep, the machinery and the supplies and will manage the day-to-day operations of the farm.
Here’s the really clever part…
They’re giving Aaron and Anika an option to buy into the operations business!
It’s good for the couple to have some skin in the game. That’s so motivating and will get them really invested in the success of the farm. Plus it gives them a way to own a piece of the farming industry they’re so passionate about without a huge amount of capital. (Another win-win!)
As the business grows, Tim and Cheryl will be stepping back from the day-to-day operations. But they’ll still be involved in three main ways:
- They’ll be paid a wage from the operations business
- They’ll get money from the business for the lease of their land each month
- They’ll remain on the board
What’s also great is that this setup allows the next generation to have a crack and use their innovation…and the Freak’s won’t have to take on that risk.
With the land lease, Tim and Cheryl will be taken care of financially. So the older generation won’t hold the younger one back and the younger generation won’t risk what the older ones worked so hard for. It’s the ultimate win-win.
The key takeaway here is to keep an open mind!
Tim and Cheryl did some very unconventional things (hired people who had no farm experience, created a culture where everyone genuinely enjoys work, letting their employees buy into the business) that are paying off for them.
If you struggle with negative thinking or a closed-minded attitude, keep an eye out for next week’s blog post. We’ll be talking more about how to develop a winning mindset – something all profitable farmers have in common.
Learn more about the Platinum Mastermind
This is the high-level program that Tim and Cheryl joined to give them many of the ideas that transformed their business. Curious what it could do for YOUR business?