Get ready for 2010 – your top 12 resolutions (part 3)

Getting good advice and acting on it is crucial to keep a business at the top of its game. Suzie Horne gleaned twelve top tips for 2010 from the experts.

7. Get the right advice

Organise a third party review of the business to check current structure and for new ideas.

Don’t be scared to change advisers – your solicitor, accountant or agent – to get a fresh look at the business. Many farmers are missing out on tax mitigation opportunities by using non-specialist accountants. We switched one client to a farming specialist recently and he has saved £50,000 simply through the new firm ensuring the correct tax coding is being used for expenditure on farm improvements.

Giles Hanglin, Savills, Cambridge

8. Review farm business insurance

Review your insurance at least once a year. A comprehensive regular review helps ensure everything is correctly covered for the right amount, and that you are not paying out for activities you are no longer involved with, produce you no longer store, or machinery you no longer have.

The three most common types of claim on arable farms are for crops damaged by hail, malicious damage and, in particular, fires and the impact from vehicles, so look at your own unit and take action to protect your claims history and insurance costs by reducing those risks.

Tim Price, NFU Mutual

9. Assess your systems

“It is simply madness to keep doing the same thing and expect different results”– Einstein.

So, keep simple data on work rates, fuel consumption, and the like for future review. Ask staff, particularly those new to the farm, for feedback on working systems and time/motion efficiency. Take time at the end of the day to review how things have gone and act on your reflections; try something different if you want different results.

Also, find an effective memo system. Valuable thoughts may occur in the seclusion of the tractor that are subsequently lost. Whether a notebook, the “voice record” function of a mobile or a pocket dictaphone, find a way that suits you to collect those thoughts for future use.

Guy Banham, Samuel Rose, Land and Property Consultants

* Look out for the rest of the 2010 business tips tomorrow.