This article is aimed at helping farmers prepare the perfect farm tender. Andrew Troughton gives his advice.
The recent NFU National Tenant Conference included a section on how to tender for a farm tenancy. I spoke there about the 15 Minute Business Plan as an important part of this process. As a step on from that I have prepared 10 tips for preparing a farm tender:
- Spend as much time as possible at the farm during the viewing day
This is to get to know the farm well, but also to speak to and get to know the agent. It is likely they will be judging the tenders, so treat this like the first interview. If you ask sensible questions and have a good chat about things they are likely to remember you.
- Make the business plan work
Initially the 15 Minute Business Plan allows you to get an overall handle on the business opportunity. Once done, you need to add details and work on the numbers. The budgets and projections must look realistic and achievable. Crop rotations, breeding programs and sales all need to be carefully worked through.
- Develop a sustainable business plan
Sustainable in this sense means considering the natural resources and environment. Most landlords care about their properties and take a very long term view. Detailing cropping, outlining a soil plan, suggesting environmental improvements and commenting about drainage all help show that you care long term.
- Focus on what the farms positive and negative factors are
The positive attributes should be retained or enhanced. If the farm has any particular problems such as flooding, erosion or run down parts, come up with a proposal to address these over time.
- Have a good CV
At its simplest this is a normal CV with your education, training and most importantly experience. Ideally however this should be elaborated to show what makes you stand out as the best applicant. Even if you don’t have a farm and have only ever worked for a farm contractor or farmer, you will have gained much more experience and skills than you realise.
- Show off your track record
You are trying to show a good track record in terms of your career development and experience. In some cases a farm web site to show this off is useful addition. Also be prepared for a farm visit from the letting agent.
- Fit your plans with the landlord’s objectives
It sounds obvious, but read the letting details again and again. Talk to the agent on the letting day and try and understand the sort of person they are looking for. If they are an institutional landlord they will have a web site which may summarise their key estate objectives.
- Show you are financially able to take the farm on.
This needs start with an assessment of the working capital (or cash) needed to start the new enterprise and then be backed up by proof of funds. This can be a simple letter from the bank or lender such as AMC (Agricultural Mortgage Corporation) (AMC Link) offering the money for the particular farm tender.
- Show you are a good and straight forward person to do business with
All landowners and landlords agents want to let the farm then walk away with only yearly or twice yearly contact or visits. Getting the message across that you are easy to do business with is critical when tendering for a farm. This needs to be shows throughout the tender process.
- Supply good references
This is your time to really stand out. Don’t say they references are available on request, but provide them automatically. Provide both personal and business references. Personal references could be current or previous employers, neighbouring farmers or the local NFU Group Secretary, for example. Business references could be your bank or long standing professional contacts such as your solicitor, accountant or land agent. Key suppliers such as a feed company are also good to show your ability to pay.
I have previously suggested that when tendering for a farm you need to take ownership. The 15 minute business plan and these tips hopefully show a way forward. As agents we have considerably experience at helping and assisting your tender process and we would always be pleased to look at new opportunities.