Rory: digging for digital skills in rural Lincolnshire
03 Jan 2019
Rory Whittaker, a young contract farmer from Lincolnshire, has been learning digital skills to help expand and diversify his business in new and exciting ways, thanks to the team at Lincs Training and the Prince’s Countryside Fund.
Rich Avison, Centre Manager at Lincs Training explains: “We met Rory through another local business we were supporting. He responded to one of their adverts selling hay and when he arrived to collect it, they got talking to him and found out that he was keen to expand his business. They recommended our services and asked if they could pass on his details to us, to which he agreed.”
When Rich and the team initially made contact with Rory, he was looking to set up RW Agri Services, hoping that he could run it alongside his work as a contract farmer to give him extra income all year round.
Rich explains: “Rory told us that RW Agri Services would purchase second hand farming machinery and equipment, service and repair it and put it back onto the sales market.
“We realised that Rory’s skill mix was very good for a young man and he’d done very well on his own, but to expand he’d need extra support.”
Rich and the team helped Rory out with a number of things including his finances, setting up both his own website and a profile on Digger Bidder - an online auction site for farming and building equipment to sell Rory’s products - which could be linked to from his website homepage.
They looked at using social media channels, advertising websites and eye-catching adverts to help Rory increase his sales. They also looked at simple spreadsheets for Rory to use for quick calculations when doing business, so he was clear on his profit margins.
Rich says: “Twitter was an avenue that Rory had never used. We discussed the market that this medium could bring to his business and showed him how another person we had supported was reaping the rewards. We set up an account and he is now engaging with companies from further afield.
“It also became apparent that another business we had supported through the Prince’s Countryside Fund project could work well with him and they could support each other.”
Flintwood Farm, a luxury farm holiday firm was looking for someone to manage land for cattle grazing - an excellent opportunity for Rory.
Rich says: “After putting both parties together, they are now supporting each other. Rory is buying more cattle to graze on the 150 acres at Flintwood Farm and is learning more about woodland management.
“As time goes on, Rory would also like to extend RW Agri Services into a hire service. After research, we identified a gap in the market locally for this sort of service and with the profit from the second-hand sales market, he will be able to purchase equipment for the rental market, therefore helping his cash flow all year round.
“We are continuing to support Rory in his business ventures and his new partnership with Flintwood Farm."
Rory says: “For all businesses in today’s current climate, evolution is vital, and even more so if you’re a rural business. You don't want to get left behind. You need constant financial and time investment and you need to learn how to do things more easily.
“Expecting failure and learning from mistakes, or just learning generally, can only be a good thing.
“I think the best way to grow a business is to find a model that works and apply it to what you know. Having great people and great projects supporting you like Rich and the team from Lincs Training makes that journey even better.”
Get Online Week
Rory was one of the stars of Get Online Week 2018. See his starring role in one of our campaign videos below: