"Profitable instruction for Texas Longhorn youth exhibitors"
Every successful adult knows all business has to be profitable. Whether it is ranching, a grocery store, delivering propane or selling burgers, it can not, and will not continue without a profit. Teenage Texas Longhorn show-kids may not have come to that realization.
Life or death to any endeavor hinges on providing a product or service economically produced, and marketed at a profit. Once the knowledge of how to make showing Longhorns profitable is understood, things begin to be more fun. No one has to hope for a college grant, or scholarship, the Longhorn business can pay for college, or even better, start a cattle business owned and controlled by you, while still in high school. Here are some tips on profiting with Texas Longhorns, using shows as a tool.
Shows are a place of excitement. Shows are a place where large numbers of people flock around the cattle on display. If people are having fun and making a profit the excitement goes on forever. If there is no profit soon the fun will become too expensive and slowly the fun will also go away. With a good business plan this whole picture can be very sweet -- then, go on and on, bigger and better.
Tip: Think of a show as a place to market -- where people who love the cattle buy and sell cattle. Prepare for marketing more than preparation for competition.
Tip: Always have some show cattle ready to sell. Know what the selling price is and be ready to walk away with funds -- without the cattle. Plan on it. Work for it. Have photos of cattle not at the show that are for sale -- keep photos ready. Know your selling price before you leave for the show. Have a print out with photos of your sale inventory.
Tip: Have a breeding plan. If your herd sire has given a goodly number of calves, show his family. When one of the family wins, the whole calf crop is a half sister or brother. The profit of showing and winning will add value to every related calf. To the opposite, when a calf wins and you have nothing related to them, it does not ad value back to your herd. That is a breeding plan for profit.
Tip: Never enter more than one entry per class. If three cattle are shown in the same class, no matter how great they are, one will not be able, at best, to show above third place. Try for first in every class.
Tip: Name your business. Some like to call themselves a ranch. If so, use your name, not some code title. If you are Jake Squattley, call your business name something like Squattley Land & Cattle, and people will remember it. If you call your ranch X Bar Q Longhorns, you are lost in the world. It takes years of costly advertising to get the world to know who the X Bar Q is. Make marketing easy to remember -- use your name. If your identity is lost in the X Bar Q world, drop it, and get it right.
Tip: Learn/practice a professional firm hand shake. Approach every prospect, state your name, shake their hand and procede immediately to the sales pitch about your "wonderful" cattle that are for sale. A professional hand shake is medium firm, a smile, and direct eye contact. Get it right. A limp hand shake means you are a wuss!
Tip: At the big shows thousands of people walk past the stalling area daily. These people are interested in cattle, or they would not be there. Greet them. Talk about your cattle. Give them a business card. Better yet, give them a post card with your favorite herd sire pictured. The same phone, address and email address can be on the post card as a business card. An order of 2000 post cards costs $122.14 at PSPrint.com. Post cards have a visual life, business cards get lost or hidden. Don't lay cards on a table for "small people" to grab by the hand full. Discretely present one at a time to valid, interested people -- post cards have "keeping" value.
Tip: Break the ice. Start a conversation with passing visitors. Get a dialog started, then take it on from there. "Do you raise Texas Longhorns?" NO. "Great I am here to help you." "Have you considered raising Texas Longhorns on your ranch?" "Don't you just love Texas Longhorns?" "You look like a person who would be good at raising Texas Longhorns?" Start here, then fine-tune and develop your own opening tease. Go into full-sale-mode and explain why they can not live another day without Texas Longhorns.
Tip: Valuable harvest. While promoting your sale inventory, before prospective new producers leave, get their name, address, phone and email. At every show 10 to 50 new contact addresses can be harvested. Shows closer to your headquarters are more valuable because it is closer for people to come buy cattle. The one with the most emails wins.
Tip: Keep in mind, clothes make the image. Dress western. Mind your manners. A well shaped western hat speaks loud "Texas Longhorn." The sizzle sells higher than the hamburger. There is one outfit for washing poo and another for greeting prospective buyers. Know your clothes. Dress to sell.
Tip: At the National Western Stock Show in Denver once a Hereford bull won Grand Champion named Miles McKee. A half interest sold for $600,000. The total purchase price was pre-sold as semen rights. When a bull is judged Grand, that may be the time in his life to sell on the spot. There may never be as much enthusiasm as right then. Don't miss the right timing.
Tip: Winning or losing means nothing unless it creates value to win. If cattle sell easy and for more money that win, it means the judge is getting it right, and you are harvesting the profits.
Tip: Maybe you don't want to sell your Champion bull. Sell anyway, and keep some semen rights. If he is good enough, have semen available to raise a whole pasture full just like him. If you don't use it, you can always sell the semen.
Tip: AI breed your best show heifers and have calves born by the most famous sires. This will help get more return on the investment. The wider the horns the more dollars they will bring. Always select AI sires who weigh over a ton and have mid eighty or better horn spreads. Young unproven bulls are a risky option. Availability of a convenient loaner bull, or a leased bull will probably be the worst financial option.
After the show.
Tip: Promptly work your list of prospective new buyers. Sort your emails and contact the interested people. Call them by phone. Send photos of calves for sale. Write post cards or letters to prospective buyers. Invite them to your next show. Invite people to your place and personally show your cattle. One call or card is not enough -- maybe 3 to 6 communications will be required to make a sale.
Tip: Cost of sales is everything. The cost of private marketing is the most effecient way to do all cattle business. Anything but private sales may increase your costs by 10 times.
Tip: In the Texas Longhorn business low value cattle are more difficult to sell. If calves have impressive early lateral horn growth it is a fact of life -- bigger horned cattle, in this breed, sell easier, and faster, and for more money. If marketing show calves at good prices is very difficult, it quite possibly means the calf is not desirable. Some cattle are just culls and will never be worth more that what they sell for by the pound. In that case sell quick at the salvage price and upgrade to better stock. The market just told you it is a dead-end street.
Tip: When the first calf sells for a handsome price, it will be contagious. Set a good example of business development. Once other kids see what is happening -- they will smell blood like a coon hound, they will see how to work the business, and that will be very good for everyone.
Tip: The one who contacts the most people wins. Use the tips above -- you will win so much you will get tired of winning!