It's challenging for anyone to run a poultry farm business, but it can be extra difficult for women due to the prejudices held in this male-dominated industry.
Many of the poultry farmers we work with are women. We've heard from some of them that unfortunately, they don't always get the respect they deserve and are often underestimated in their abilities as a farmer. Any poultry grower knows that you have to run your farm like a business, so we talked to CEO Leisa Coyne to get her perspective on how to run a successful business.
You may remember Leisa from our lawn mower maintenance video, where she gives advice on mower maintenance for farmers (she is a master at lawn mower repair!). Leisa has been a business owner for about 35 years. Her businesses include the Ace Hardware in Colbert and Crawford, Georgia, her mower repair shop in Colbert and a golf cart rental business in Helen, Georgia. Leisa is pursuing even more ventures as we speak!
Leisa jokingly cites men as her number one challenge as a women in business. While learning how to adapt to a male-dominated industry, Leisa went from no one taking her seriously to being the most sought-after lawn mower mechanic in the area.
Even Allen refuses to take his mower to anyone besides Leisa and her team member Shirley, who provide mechanic services in Leisa's wittily self-proclaimed "She-Shed."
Leisa says her rise to be a well-known and trusted mechanic and business owner didn't take as long as she expected. Living in a small town, she can't count on a heavy influx of new customers and instead has to focus on retaining the business of the locals. Even with outside challenges like a pandemic throwing a wrench in the supply chain, Leisa has found that her customers still want to shop at her stores, despite having the option of a Lowe's just 15 minutes away.
She says when new people move to town they "don't understand" why they should trust her at first, but it doesn't take long for her expertise to speak for itself and the doubters to be converted into Leisa's loyal customers.
Leisa's Focus: R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Leisa's top priority has always been her employees and her customers. She states you're only as good as your employees, and you can only count on your customers to make it in business.
Her biggest rule in employee management is treating people with respect. She'll take out the trash just like she would expect her employees to do—no one is "above" any task or any person.
As someone who has experienced first hand what it feels like to not be respected, Leisa appreciates giving and receiving respect even more. She aims to lead by example and treat everyone with respect, explaining that when you give respect, it will come back to you.
Eyes on the Prize
Many poultry farmers are constantly in competition with neighboring farmers. When asked about competition, Leisa says she handles it by focusing on herself and her businesses. She's found that she prospers more when she focuses on her own businesses and doesn't worry about what others are doing. This is because focusing on others is a distraction that takes energy away from your business.
Encouragement to Other Women in Business
Leisa's words of encouragement to other female business owners is hold your head high and don't let negative comments (which she hears all the time) bring you down. You know what you're doing, because you wouldn't be where you are if you didn't. And as Allen puts it, "let your haters be your motivators."
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Allen at email@example.com! If you want to stay up to date on our content made just for poultry growers, subscribe to our Poultry Biosecurity YouTube channel.