Leave a Legacy
Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project. He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.
Five Things to Ask Before You Hire a Planner
Jul 09, 2013
From Legacy Moment (07/05/2013).
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So, you've finally decided to hire a planner and put together a succession plan. Your commitment is the most important consideration in the entire process. It is the difference between failure and a successful outcome, the full realization of your legacy dreams. For something this important, you must be confident in the people around you; both your family and the professional support team you select will affect the outcome.
You owe it to yourself, your family and the families dependent on the success of your farming operation to make good choices and select wisely. I encourage you to interview a potential pool of candidates to facilitate your planning process and then actively vet any professional advisers who might be added to the team. Recalling lessons from school, learn the what, who, when, how and why to help you make good decisions. Use the following questions before you hire a planner:
1. "What is your succession planning process? What is the family's involvement? What outcome might be expected by engaging in the process?"
2. "Representing which professions, who do you recommend become part of the planning team? From the family, who should be involved in the planning process and to what extent?"
3. "When will each stage in the process be completed? When will we begin to see the results from planning for succession in our business management and family interactions?"
4. "How long will each step in the process take? How should we interact with you to ensure efficiencies? How will each family member be involved?"
5. "Why?" The question why might be used to clarify any of the responses. "Why" should be used judiciously, however. It is both a powerful and demanding word. "Why" forces the interviewee to defend a position or delve deeper into a topic that might provoke a defensive posture and negatively affect conversation.
Ultimately, it's your succession plan. I encourage you to make informed decisions for yourself, your family and the farming operation. If you have any questions, please contact me at "Ask Kevin."
News & Resources for You:
Your succession planning project leader should possess abilities specific to the process.
Prepare for your planner selection interview with our Selecting an Adviser tool.
2013 Legacy Project Workshops are designed to give farming families good information, the appropriate tools and time to start the succession planning process. The format offers immediate feedback and concludes with suggested actions and opportunities for follow-up.
Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.