• ZISK

Hope Is Not a Strategy

July 17, 2020


John Ellsworth


I recently was visiting with a prospective client who made the statement, “Well, we’re hoping to get above 80 pounds per cow this year.”


That’s a fabulous goal, but not a very defined strategy. Now, just so you understand, this was an operation on its third generation, and they had never consistently been above 72-73 pounds per cow per day. As a result of our discussions that day, they did become clients of mine, but only after I convinced them that they needed a more refined strategic plan.


We started with the following steps:

  • Regularly scheduled Management Team Meetings – During these, we established this new goal of hitting 80 pounds per cow per day, focusing on cow comfort, fine tuning of their feed rations and getting their Days-In-Milk to be consistently in the 160 to 170-day range throughout the entire year. We also developed some plans for ways to hold this production level consistently by focusing on close up management and milking frequencies on fresh cows.

  • Regularly scheduled Finance Team Meetings – Within these sessions, we directed our discussions to their Debt Structure, various financial challenges, and opportunities with programs such as DRP, PPP, EIDL, CFAP and EIEIO… Just kidding on that last one! All these programs, except the last one, offered some serious benefits to producers if they were used in the right circumstances.

  • Regular measurement of Actual Results vs. Projections – This is crucial on your financial numbers, as well as on your management results, such as DIM, Pounds per Cow, Herd Health and many other measures.

  • Fine tuning our strategy, as needed. This is just like an airplane pilot. They have a travel plan, but they then adjust course throughout the flight, based upon changes in weather patterns, wind direction and air traffic.

This type of strategic planning has worked very effectively for over 21 years for the producers I have worked with. I will leave you with just one question: Have you developed your own strategy to succeed at a higher level?


Our industry is changing very rapidly, so don’t delay. Act now!


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