Breaking in a new rifle is a tedious and meticulous process, yet, when done correctly it yields highly effective results. Taking the time to boresight and gather measurements about the gun will add consistency to your groupings, reliability to performance and precision down range. 
 
Using all the tools available to any job or craft can significantly increase exactness and amplify your ability to hit your target with a high level of reliability. These principles apply to the management of an ranch, feedlot or any other agricultural enterprise. Make time to discover the importance of tools to correctly sight in your business. Data and statistical analysis can open the gate to exceptional increases in efficiencies and profits. 
 
I realize most of you become nauseated hearing words such as statistics, data analysis and standard deviation. They instantaneously extract painful memories of t-tests and P-values from the deepest, darkest crevices of your brain. In college, my personal favorite was statistical analysis of the performance of meat goats. I’ve shared your frustration. However, I knew success required these tools to be sharp and readily available on my business “tool belt.” And, to understand their true power, I had to make them relevant to my world. 
 
For example, statistical analysis found a home long ago in sports like football. By breaking down hours of game film, coordinators can extract critical information on a competitor. Analysis of this data exposes tendencies. Tendencies make you predictable. Predictability is a weakness. Quarterbacks, like Tom Terrific, feast on those weaknesses. Those of you in marketing, sales and production can gain similar advantages by excavating each nugget of usable insight through analysis of your business “game film.”  
 
Customer receipts and records shouldn’t just collect “cyber dust” in the cloud or a folder on your desktop. There are hidden gems in that data waiting to be unearthed. Within your operation data lies the answers to your questions of who, what, when, where and why. Statistical tools can help you unlock critical insights that will improve your farm or ranch to cultivate better relationships with customers, add transparency to what your product goals should actually be, sharpen your advertising initiatives and magnify your brand.
 
How well do you really know your customers? What do they prefer to buy and how often? Are there any behaviors they exhibit during the buying process that are distinctive? What ways do they prefer to connect and engage? Essential questions like these are easily answered using tools in spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel. Let the data guide and support your strategies. Important decisions that directly affect profit margins, such as shifts in production, adaptation of new technologies and redirection of advertising expenses can’t be made on the fly. 
 
Don’t be afraid to unleash your inner geek. Let it out and take advantage of a tool that can dramatically increase the precision you use to manage your business. 
 
 
Jared Wareham specializes in brand development, marketing, customer service, beef genetics and education. In addition to writing and public speaking, he manages one of the largest commercial seedstock businesses in the Midwest. You can contact him at: beefsolutions@gmail.com or (660) 492-2777.