Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Farmers Markets Opening Soon

From mid-May to mid-June most summer markets will open for business.

Growers selling in the markets will have lots of competition. So, using your best customer relations skills will be important. Below are some tips:

-Look neat, clean and happy to see your customers. You only have a few seconds to make a good impression. People will judge your products by your appearance. If you are a farmer, look the part; wear clean jeans, a fresh shirt or coveralls. Identify yourself by wearing a name tag or a shirt with your farm’s logo.

-Engage customers quickly. Always assume a standing position, instead of a sitting position. Standing allows you to move toward the customer with a greeting. Greet the customer with a “Hello, good to see you today,” or “What are you hungry for today?” These questions will help you begin a dialogue with the customer.

-Keep consistent hours. Arrive when the market opens; stay until the market closes. If you are experiencing growing problems due to drought or too much rain, let customers know that you are experiencing problems which may keep you from having their favorite produce. Suggest where they can purchase until you have those products again.

-Be informative about your products. Customers like to ask questions about how produce is grown, when it’s in season and how to serve or prepare certain produce. Be as informative as possible. If you are unable to answer some of their questions, refer them to the LSU AgCenter.

-Exceed customers’ expectations. Carry heavy items to cars, provide recipes, give an extra hand-ful of the product they are purchasing. All these go a long way in making the customer feel valued and appreciated. Everyone loves something for nothing.

-Apologize when things go wrong. It’s difficult to make everyone happy all the time. Realize there will be days or moments when things go wrong and a quick apology even though you have done nothing wrong will show the customer you value their business.

-Thank customers for their business. A simple thank you lets customers know you are appreciate and want to have the opportunity to serve them again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Potato Digging--Great Opportunity for Agritourism Venture

Potato Digging would be a great activity to add to your agritourism business. Very few people have the opportunity to dig potatoes. So many people have no idea that a potato is a root vegetable.

The LSU AgCenter provides an online planting guide that suggests when to plant and harvest potatoes.

If you open your farm to the public, advertise your potato digging day. Invite guests to come and help throw the potatoes in the middle of the row after the tractor disks them from the soil. Let guests sort the potatoes by size and load the potatoes in baskets.

This could be a fun day for people of all ages.

Either charge people for the experience or sell them your harvest.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

USA Today Lists Farm Haycations

Larry Bleiberg from USA TODAY wrote in his May 13, 2011 column about "10 Great Places for a Rural Haycation." Larry encourages people to consider a farm vacation over the annual trip to the beach. He highlights things to do at each destination and provides contact information.

If you have considered opening your farm or ranch to visitors for overnight stays this is a must read for you. The Farm Stay US group would be happy list your property and it can also be listed on MarketMaker. These are two great marketing resources to get the word out that you are open for business.

Not sure, if this is for you? Experiment by inviting someone for an overnight stay. If you and your family enjoy sharing your agriculture knowledge and hospitality this could be a new avenue for supplemental income.

Want to learn more about how to set up a farmstay? Read the farm stay  manual from Minnesota that was done in  collaboration with the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Renewing the Countryside, and the University of Minnesota Tourism Center.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Signs Tell Your Story

Your sign represents your business; its travelers first impression of who you are. Make sure your signs are:

-in good condition; clean and well positioned

-legible with plain lettering for easy reading

-not too busy with graphics; remember people are driving