May 19, 2023

DrKohl_color The Ag Globe Trotter

Dr. Dave M. Kohl

Welcome to the weekly edition of The Ag Globe Trotter by Dr. Dave Kohl.

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Recently, I had the opportunity to address a landscape business’ quarterly meeting. The usual overview of trends in the economy and business was presented to 75 employees, managers and owners at the crack of dawn at 6:30 a.m. This was after a presentation by the owners sharing the quarterly financials and the future direction of the business. A very positive trend in successful businesses is sharing the financials with employees, which is appreciated by the front-line people. 

The group was randomly divided into smaller groups to come up with three strategies to improve the business or to become 5% better. Before sharing, each participant was to write down one strategy or action to be 5% better for the business and one personal strategy to become 5% better. Let's examine some of the discussion. 

Training, testing and holding people accountable for training were highlighted. Taking better care of the equipment to enhance longevity, improve overall maintenance, reduce breakdowns impacting timeliness on jobs and increase resale value were listed. Less waste of materials and avoiding spills were also discussed. 

Spending 15 minutes each day planning for the business and individually was recommended. Learning both Spanish and English and understanding the history and cultures of the individuals represented was suggested. Of course, getting rid of toxic people and maintaining a positive attitude was considered. 

Discussion concerning customer service centered on customizing a response to the individual customer's needs in a high-tech environment with a connection to the value of human relationships. 

Participants discussed knowledge transfer with primary and secondary mentors. Sometimes it takes two to successfully articulate concepts and principles in different formats to transfer cultures, processes, programs and actions. 

A chuckle occurred when one individual mentioned “can’t do” organizations where there is sometimes more of a cannot than can attitude. We all know organizations and people in organizations that fit this type of culture. Developing a business culture with a “can do” focus can reap long-term benefits.  

Individually, many listed saving money and taking better care of themselves through exercise or improving their diet. Some mentioned prioritizing self-care exercises and more rest and relaxation. 

I challenge you to think of three ways your business and personal life could be 5% better. 






Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Kohl has traveled over 8 million miles throughout his professional career and has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FSA and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 1,300 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension and other popular publications.

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