I have always been fascinated to hear what dairy owners think about people who just drop in to see them. Once in a while someone says they don’t mind, but I’ve never heard anyone say something close to, “They’re the best part of my day.”
As dairies grow they become more professional and less accessible. When meetings do happen they are shorter by necessity. Today, producers seem more likely to answer texts than phone calls, which is not surprising.
Rising herd sizes have decreased what they have patience for. Time management is more important. More frequent financial meetings and reports, more milk and cow data to study, and more regulatory compliance of all kinds come with more computer time and paperwork. Days are never long enough.
Have you taken a vehicle to a car dealer for service lately? My local Ford store gets $119 per hour for labor. A couple of producer friends in different states told me electricians get about $50 per hour and parlor service is about $80 per hour, which is on the low end for on-site equipment repair, which varies according to the type of equipment being fixed. Rates by a leading tractor and field equipment manufacturer are higher than my Ford dealer, and vet visits are higher still.
Everywhere you turn, time is money – and it isn’t getting cheaper.
The point of these price references is a question to think about the next time you have some time to think: How much is your time worth?
Is it more than a milker’s or a feeder’s? How about an electrician’s, plumber’s, auto mechanic’s, or veterinarian’s? Do sales people come to visit because you asked them to, or just to drop off brochures? Do they respect your time as being valuable If they don’t, whose fault is it?
Do you think of your time as being valuable? Do you treat it professionally? I know a handful of producers who began requiring appointments many years ago. They say word spread quickly when their dairy’s open door policy closed, and it has resulted in fewer interruptions and more productive workdays.
Whether dairy owners like it or not, as herd sizes continue to grow they become less like herd managers and more like company CEOs whose time is valuable . . . and the clock is always ticking.