Six months ago, I went to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor was blunt. He told me I need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and exercise more. And most disturbing to me, he told me to lose weight! At the time, I wasn’t very thrilled with his advice. But I listened. Since then, I started exercising a little more. I stopped eating between meals (for the most part). And best of all, I have lost 15 pounds.
What if doctors failed to initiate difficult discussions or offer advice? What if doctors withheld information fearing their patients would find a different doctor? Most doctors don’t make a lot of money on wellness visits. They make more money when testing for problems and when procedures are involved. But that doesn’t stop doctors from giving tough recommendations.
Recently I overheard an ag retailer say he thought talking to farmers about conservation was not a good practice because the conversation could damage his relationship with the farmer. He went on to explain that it was unlikely he could make much money by offering conservation services; that ultimately profit was in product sales.
What if my doctor had refused to give wellness advice? I know my doctor does not make his money on my wellness visits. Instead he makes his money on sick people. He would make a lot more money from me if I had high blood pressure and diabetes. If I were hospitalized, he would make even more money. Fortunately, none of this crazy thinking stopped my doctor from doing his job.
Likewise, as a farmer I would want my most trusted advisor, my ag retailer, to help me with conservation issues. Sure, I might be I little shocked if my ag retailer suggested I could reduce soil erosion and thereby improve my soil health. I might feel a little uneasy if he told me that I needed a waterway. And I might be a little disturbed if he said I was partly responsible for the local water quality issue. However, I know that I would respect my ag retailer more if he told me what I needed to know, not what I wanted to hear. If you are the most trusted advisor, your relationship will withstand the strain of straightforward advice.