Market gardening marketing part 3 - communicating with customers
So the phone is ringing with potential customers; now what? We set a policy from the start of meeting with every family that wanted to join our CSA. So we explain to each caller that we would like to meet with them for about 30 minutes, to explain our program in detail, answer questions, and find out their preferences. We also tell them we want to see where they are, for later delivery purposes. We agree upon a time for the meeting, then on to the next caller.
At the meeting, ask your prospective customer them if you can go over your program with them. Then using the flyer as a reference, explain all aspects of how you do business and answer questions. It’s a good idea to make note of the questions, so that next time you can include that information in your explanation.
When I visit prospective customers I also bring a portfolio of farm pictures with me, showing the plant starting room, the greenhouse, the gardens and anything else that might be interesting or unusual (e.g. sometimes I bring pictures of baby animals born on the farm). I show them a printout from our Bootstrap Market Garden Planner and explain this is a tool we use to help produce a consistent crop.
By the way, we suggest you document EVERYTHING on your farm. We take dozens of pictures of our farm every month, at every stage of production in the garden, and pictures of everything we build. Bring some pictures with you; this builds credibility and helps reinforce that you are an actual working business.
Besides the information in our flyer, some of the things I tell prospective customers include:
- How we plan and manage our crops to produce a good harvest
- The estimated quantities we plan to deliver
- When we plan to start deliveries
There will probably be quite a few questions when you start out, so be prepared with the details of how your farm works. Typical questions include:
- Do you guarantee a quantity of veggies?
- What happens when they (the customer) are on vacation?
- What time of day do you deliver?
- What happens if no one is home when you deliver?
Be prepared with your answers. If all goes well, we get their preferences for veggies, answer any other questions, and sign them up! Accept a cheque, issue a receipt and on to the next prospect!
Next: Managing And Growing Your CSA Market Garden. Congratulations, you’ve signed up enough customers to hit your target for the year! Now you are committed to growing veggies to meet their expectations. Here are some key information points