Ranch Management Instruction Manual

by Dallas Mount

As you open gifts this Christmas, they will probably include a few instruction manuals often, full of ridiculous legal jargon. Those manuals tend to get thrown out with the used wrapping paper and boxes. But what if your ranch came with an instruction manual that was actually useful? I’m not talking about how to fix a windmill, pull a calf, or feed cows. I’m talking about instructions on running a successful ranch business. What do you imagine this ranch instruction manual would say? 

I’ve taken a stab at a few “instructions” I think should be included. I didn’t try to draw any diagrams or step by step instructions for assembly. Instead here are some processes that any profitable ranch needs to address:

  1. Figure out what parts of your ranch business are working well and what parts need to be overhauled or scrapped. If you are running the ranch the way you always have, you’re getting left behind. Or, as famous management guru Edwards Deming said, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” This isn’t to say we should throw it all out. Let’s get busy figuring out what parts of the business will work well moving forward and what parts we should abandon or fix.
  2. Build an economic and cash flow plan for the coming year BEFORE the year is in full swing. Doing economic projections allows the business to make changes before any wrecks occur. A complete economic model will include profit targets, overheads, gross margins for each enterprise and comparisons to benchmarks.
  3. Make sure everyone on the ranch team is crystal clear about where the business is headed and believes in the why behind it. The “why” behind a business is the mission, the purpose of the business. This is what gets people inspired and bring passion to their work.
  4. As Burke Teichert recommends you need to start with soil, then plants, then livestock. We first need to support the life underground to grow our crop (grass) that our combines (the livestock) harvest. Too many ranchers spend all their time polishing their combines and never understand how to grow a thriving and resilient crop. Begin by creating a grazing plan for the coming year that focuses on building the health of the soil and plants.
  5. Learn how to lead and engage people to bring their best. This is what separates the top business leaders from the rest. There are multiple lifetimes of learnings when it comes to leading people, a good place to start is to read Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.


Not sure how to accomplish some of these elements of my ranch instruction manual? If you are like me, when I need to learn to do something new I Google it and watch a Youtube video on it but this results in a lot of trial and error. At RMC we have taken this to heart and are excited to announce the launching of RFP Online, which is intended to be a step-by-step instruction manual for doing many of the items mentioned above.


RFP Online

RFP Online is in-depth support for alumni of the Ranching for Profit School in implementing many of the things you learn at the school. It includes fully downloadable and customizable spreadsheets that run the economic model and dozens of short videos walking you through each step along the way. RFP Online also includes member only webinars by ranchers for ranchers on struggles and successes in implementing the principles taught at RFP.

In the middle of the pandemic, we wrestled with the idea of making a version of the Ranching for Profit School available online. As we started down this path we stopped when we realized the quality of the experience would in no way compare to what you experience by attending in person. I don’t know how to create the relationships that develop, the trust that is formed and the experiences that happen at the RFP School through a computer screen. Also, there is value in being away from the distractions of the ranch to really focus your energy on the big picture. So instead, we decided to take a fresh look at the way we support graduates of the RFP school. The result is RFP Online and I’m proud of what we have created. New members must be part of an RFP alumni business to join RFP Online. We hope this new resource will help you maintain the momentum gained at the Ranching for Profit School and propel your good ideas into great results. You can join RFP Online here.

Running a ranch isn’t just about following an instruction manual. There is not one set of instructions for all profitable ranches. However, there is an instruction manual for doing an economic analysis. We’ve been teaching ranchers how to do it for over 35 years. Let’s get to work!


6 Responses to “Ranch Management Instruction Manual”

December 23, 2020 at 3:39 am, Steve Campbell said:

Thank you Dallas.
Always good to see your perspective.
Merry CHRISTmas


December 23, 2020 at 7:10 am, Dallas Mount said:

Thank you Steve. Merry CHRISTmas to you and yours too! Dallas


December 23, 2020 at 5:13 am, Warren Burles said:

Good stuff, I for one though found Steven Coveys book almost unreadable. Everything else I’m 100 % on board with. When things open up again and your up in Canada likely my wife will participate iin a Ranching for Profit School.


December 23, 2020 at 7:11 am, Dallas Mount said:

Hi Warren. I found it easy to listen to. I’ve listened to it several times and get something new each time. Another one high on my list is Crucial Conversations. Might try that one. Merry Christmas. Dallas


December 23, 2020 at 7:53 am, Shawn Freeland said:

RFP online is a great idea Dallas.
Thank you for making it available.
Merry Christmas.


December 23, 2020 at 3:34 pm, Anthea said:

I struggle with staff.
Near enough is not good enough.
I cannot handle drug and excess alcohol use.
7 Habits is inspirational but I have not made myself a better staff manager from it.
Any other guidance is welcome.
Merry Christmas and thinking of you all dealing daily with the carnage of covid.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *