It wasn’t a phone call that I had expected to get. The caller wasn’t from what you’d call our target audience. But then, he had been good enough to call, and after all, he did have a point.
The call actually came from a Home Hardware franchisee who had taken over a small-town store not so very long ago.
He faced a bit of culture shock. Suddenly he was dealing regularly with farm customers. He could see the value of their business, and he wanted to make his store their preferred place to shop.
In other words, he didn’t only want to know what the farmers might need in the way of nuts and bolts. He also wanted insights into their business challenges and opportunities, and into their short- and long-term aspirations.
He asked around and soon was told that a subscription to Country Guide would help him gain those insights, and on a Wednesday lunch break some months later he decided to dial my number to let me know he had become a regular reader.
I get a fair few calls in a day, and I don’t usually write about them afterward. (If you call or email, be assured that I never print or pass on your name unless I ask — which I almost never do — and unless you and I have agreed together that it is a good thing to do. If you say “probably not,” that’s how it stays, and I’m still happy you got in touch.)
There are a couple or three reasons why I wanted to mention this particular call, though.
First is that I admit I was pleased when he said he found Country Guide more helpful for his own business than many of the publications that are aimed at him as a retailer. Issues like succession planning, financial management, HR policies and so many others are common across sectoral borders.
It’s a reminder that it isn’t only agriculture that has benefited from increased sophistication in the last decade. There’s a return available on management capability across a wide range of business types.
It’s true we do try to pack some pertinent and professional information into each issue. Look for instance at Maggie Van Camp’s “7 Summer Financial Bottlenecks” at the start of our April 2018 issue as just one example.
Such information, together with columns like Brenda Schoepp’s “The Necessity of Conflict” create a platform for the continuous improvement that has become such a keen focus on so many farms.
Still, Country Guide wouldn’t be Country Guide without farmers from across Canada telling us about the most important decisions they are making, and how those decisions are working out.
I continue to be surprised that such farmers are as open with us as they are. We do try to do our part, I think, including by making sure the journalist who talks to them knows what they’re talking about.
Of course, though, these farmers aren’t sharing with Country Guide. That isn’t their point.
They’re sharing with agriculture. And after a busy winter season, I wanted to send a note of humble appreciation. I feel lucky every day.
What do you think? Are we getting it right? Let me know at [email protected].