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My (sort of) One Man Panel Discussion
by The G-Man

In recent conversations with professionals best described as 'industry observers' a couple of items came out that we need to talk about. As a manager, you may not like the observations. And, they may not reflect you or your situation. But, if they do, you might want to give it some thought. Should you disagree, tell me about it at?www.grainandfeedmanager.com.

Your New Partner
The first is actually addressed in this issue (great minds think alike) and is scheduled for at least one workshop at the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois' 115th annual convention. Your? ?? ?financial world is changing quickly. Your lender may be the same organization, but chances are your credit line is going to increase. Operational costs will climb, whether you're expanding storage or not. That could mean changes in equity requirements, more detailed financial accounting, more detailed reports and more. You may wonder if your ol' lending buddy is the same guy! Keep in mind that as the stakes climb, so does his risk and need for security. Better keep an eye on this because it could change faster than you expect!

Who's in Charge?
Another topic discussed started when someone observed that most operations in this industry aren't blessed “stellar” human resources programs. In one issue the publisher of this magazine asked, tongue-in-cheek, “How do YOU Manage Someone Who Doesn't Even Wear a Watch?” We're all dealing with new, young employees. They need different management. They can drive Boomers up a wall. And, that will play havoc with your work force relations. Are you sure that your job descriptions are clear and concise? As the Manager, are you aggressively pursuing and demonstrating leadership? You no longer are head of a good ol' boys club. Your board is going to hold you responsible for results. Sounds something like a sports coach that can be traded when the team doesn't play well, doesn't it? Guess what - IT IS! Your job is more about leadership than ever before. You can't ignore that. It's so important that this magazine has created special management skill information to Help Managers Lead. Use their website as well.

Millionaire Customers ARE different!
Once customers reach the millionaire status, they seem driven to reach the two and three million dollar level - quickly. And, they usually do not expect to be treated the same as everyone else. These days, it doesn't take as big an operation to be a million dollar customer as it used to. The key to working with them deals more with being equitable than “fair.” After all, there's really no such thing as fair--who can define that! You should be sure that your board understands that treating all customers alike is no longer a given. Are all in “sync” with this? Do you know your boundaries? Are your operating policies consistent, yet flexible? Better to think about and address that NOW than at harvest. These are changing times - better be sure that you are able to change to meet them. If YOU don't, someone else will.

Where Are the Sales People?
One wag suggested that business is going to be done by Customer Relationship Managers, rather than salesmen. You may, or may not agree that the title will change to that degree. But, few would argue that it certainly does describe the change of responsibilities taking place. Are you facilitating those changes in your operation? Is everyone responsible for customer relations? They should be. And, those who do it best will have the most customers. Sounds like opportunities—and probably some staff development needs. Tell us what you think and how you are preparing for these changes.

We really would like to hear from you..

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