When we talk about a ranch succession plan, it’s usually from the perspective of people moving on from the ranching life. In our recent webinar, Ranch Succession Planning 101, AgriWebb Director of Strategic Accounts and fifth-generation rancher Coby Buck shared his thoughts as part of the generation that is taking over.
Here are some questions he urges “the next generation” to ask themselves as they create a ranch succession plan.
Are you strengthening family bonds?
For a family ranch to thrive, the relationships within that family should be of the utmost importance. As Coby pointed out, most ranches are sold due to an untenable position created by disagreements and fighting within a family. Similar to a divorce, if no one can agree on who gets the house, you end up selling it.
“Looking at our goals, in the priorities, maintaining strong, happy, and loving family relationships has to be number one,” Coby says. “By prioritizing family relationships, that helps mitigate the biggest risk to succession and to the continuation of your operation.”
Is there a ranch succession plan in place? Is it current?
Writing down long-term goals and creating management plans for the future is essential if your operation is going to be sustainable. Seeking professional advice during the succession planning process can also help.
Remember, a ranch succession plan isn’t set in stone.
“To this day, we do annual check-ins, and then in-depth reviews every five years or when there are any major life events, such as births, marriages, or profession changes,” Coby says.
Do you have an expansionary livestock management mindset to ensure your economic viability?
To ensure your ranch’s ongoing success, the family must do whatever it takes to preserve operational profitability.
“Legacy doesn’t matter if the ranch can’t stay in business, if people cannot draw incomes from the operation,” Coby points out. “If the operation can’t support multiple families, it’s something to take note of and look for ways to adapt.”
That can mean identifying and adopting new livestock management strategies and new technology with a succession plan. It can also involve personal development. On the Wray Ranch, Coby’s parents had a policy of sending their children off the ranch for five years. It meant they gained skills to build the business or discovered new interests that enabled them to pursue a career outside ranching.
Are you building your ranch succession plan openly and transparently?
Keeping everyone informed and involved helps prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. Shared knowledge also means smoother day-to-day operations. Coby’s younger brother developed a hundred-page binder covering the family operation, with everything from grazing plans and gross margin yields, to an infrastructure inventory.
The ranch has also adopted AgriWebb’s livestock management software to level up their business operations.
“Day-to-day, it’s an enormous asset, and indirectly it allows myself and two siblings who are not on the operation on a daily basis, to understand the operation from arm’s length,” Coby explains.
Are you ensuring the previous generation will be looked after?
Any plans for the ranch’s future should support the people who built it, whether they want to keep a hand in the ranching world with a small cow herd, downsize their house or travel the globe. Coby felt allowing for quality healthcare insurance for the retiring generation was particularly important.
“At the end of the day, succession is effectively inheriting the assets from the previous generation,” he says “That is something that we should all remain conscious of.”
You can learn more about ranch succession by watching the full webinar. Or, get in touch with us to find how livestock management software like AgriWebb can make it easier to get everyone in the family store and share all of the data that matters to your ranch, all in one place.