Sattin Hill Market Farming Course Module 2: Market Research and Sales Outlets (FSFS240)

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Episode Summary

This episode of Farm Small Farm Smart features the second module in the Sattin Hill Market Farming Course, where Josh Sattin talks about the importance of doing market research, as well as the different market streams you can sell your products to.

Today’s Guest: Josh Sattin

Josh Sattin is a farmer at Sattin Hill Farm in Raleigh, North North Carolina. As an educator and professional videographer, Josh has published hundreds of educational farming videos on his YouTube to help make a difference in the local farming and foodscape.

            Josh Sattin – YouTube | Instagram | Website

In this episode of Farm Small, Farm Smart

  • Direct marketing is key to make small-scale farming successful (01:51)
  • Look at your location—is there a market there? (02:48)
  • Consider alternate options (05:27)
  • Which products are profitable? (06:17)
  • Keep things simple (06:34)
  • CSA as a sales outlet (07:48)
  • CSA: the most difficult sales model to master (09:06)
    • Taking money upfront and promising output (09:10)
    • Planning and learning to grow different kinds of crops (09:30)
    • Requires more land (09:52)
    • Needs good money management (10:12)
    • Options for customization (10:33)
    • Getting products to customers (11:14)
    • Bringing products from other farms (12:21)
  • Farmers markets are the best sales outlet to get started with (13:56)
    • Farmers markets are common and are gaining popularity (14:02)
    • A lot of flexibility in terms of inventory (14:13)
    • Great for relationship building (14:33)  
    • Meet local chefs (15:10)
  • Bring something different to the farmers market (15:45)
  • Additional expenses at the farmers market (16:07)
  • Farmers markets are a significant time commitment (16:26)
  • Restaurant sales (17:41)
    • Weekly consistency (17:55)
  • How to approach chefs (18:17)
  • With restaurants, consistency is key (19:40)
  • Communication is valuable (20:34)
  • How harvesting and delivery looks like for Josh (21:16)
  • Cons of selling to restaurants (25:13)
  • Alternate sales outlets (27:20)
    • On-farm farm stand (27:23)
    • Bringing products to events (28:38)
  • Important reminders (29:17)
    • Do research on your market (29:47)
    • Never underestimate marketing (29:57)
    • Be professional (30:11)
    • Be consistent in your product’s quality (30:36)
    • Focus on relationship building (30:48)

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FSFS240

[00:00:00] Diego Footer: Thanks for listening to this special edition of Farm Small, Farm Smart. Today, you're going to hear is module two of the Sattin Hill farm course series. This module is focused on researching your market and selling products. If you want to watch Josh Sattin�s presentation of this module, you can do so on his YouTube channel by clicking the link below.

[00:00:24] To find additional resources related to this module, visit paperpot.co/josh. Now let's jump right into it, Josh Sattin on researching your market and selling products.

[00:00:38] Welcome back to the Sattin hill farm course. This is module two, researching your market and selling products. And before we get into it today, I just have to have a huge thank you to Paperpot Co., who is a sponsor of this entire course without the help of Diego and paperback co none of this would ever happen. More on them later.

[00:00:54] Now, to continue on some of the ideas from the first module, we need to talk a little bit more about the business side of it today. And I think a lot of farmers get into farming because they enjoy the growing part of it. They enjoy the soil science, they enjoy crops and growing food.

[00:01:09] And that is a huge part of being a farmer. But if we don't have sustainable businesses, we won't be farmers longterm. And that's where I really hit on a couple of things here, because for us to be successful, we need to learn how to grow the crops.

[00:01:23] And we will get into that technical stuff later. We've talked more about the business side of it, and that's why I'm starting off with this because I think I really feel strongly that if we're going to be successful with this kind of farming, we need to realize that we need to make money.

[00:01:35] A lot of farmers when they get started have this sense that if they build it, they will come. And I think I fell into that trap early as well. And I think if we realize that early, we can make sure that we're successful. Moving forwards.

[00:01:51] Direct marketing is key to making the small-scale farm work. And what I mean by direct marketing. As the farmer or the business owner, you are in direct contact with your customers, you're communicating with them, you're interacting with them directly, and you're also selling them directly. And the reason why this is so important and how this whole system works is that you get the maximum amount of profit.

[00:02:12] When there is no middleman, there is no retailer. There's no wholesaler. You can sell your products for retail price or close to retail price. And that's how we make this work. If you're selling to a wholesaler, then you have a much smaller profit margin and to make enough money, you need to be on much larger scale.

[00:02:28] So if you're growing on small acreage and you're trying to make this kind of model work and keep a human powered and all the kind of stuff that we'll be talking about on my farm here, you have to be direct marketing. You cannot be selling to wholesalers and stuff like that, you will not make enough money.

[00:02:42] So as you're trying to determine if this business is going to work and again, piggybacking on a lot of things from module, number one, you need to ask yourself, where are you located? Because a lot of times you'll need to be either in a city or nearby to a city or have a city that�s somewhat easily accessible to, for you to get to, to sell your produce.

[00:03:01] Generally speaking, in larger population areas, you're going to be able to get more money for your products, and that's how you become profitable. Now I bring this up because I thought a lot of people over the years, sending me messages, complaining that they can't get so much money. It's like $6, a dozen for eggs or $10 a pound for lettuce or whatever the numbers are.

[00:03:19] They say, I can't get that, eggs are a dollar 50, a dozen here. Well then, this kind of farm model doesn't work. And so you have to consider that when you're starting your farm business, maybe, you�re half an hour away from a metropolitan area, maybe you're an hour away. Is that doable? You know, what does the market look like there in, in your market?

[00:03:37] And you have to think. You know, is there a local food scene, right? Are there a lot of farmer's markets? Are there restaurants that are supporting local farmers? Is there like a lot of people that are into organic food? What's the lifestyle of the people around that, around there. Those are the things you really want to think about.

[00:03:52] If you're selling it to a market, do the people want your products because. You could get yourself into a very tough situation if you build your farm business, you get started and then you try selling it and you have no customers. Now this isn't to say that you can't make it work in areas like this.

[00:04:06] I've heard of plenty of farms in areas that you wouldn't think would work that do, but it takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of marketing and you're going to have to have a lot of education for your customers to realize the value of your products and to get those higher prices. Now you might be in an area where you have a lot of social influencer community involvement, and you're able to connect with all those people.

[00:04:29] And you're able to influence sort of the, the, the food and the culture that's going on there. That is to say, it will take a lot of work, but keep that in mind, because just, if you build it, they will come. Doesn't always work. You have to make sure that you have a market that you can sell your stuff to.

[00:04:45] And a great example for this is products like microgreens, which I don't grow anymore, but there's a lot of places where people are making a ton of money on microgreens. And, and when I got started, I thought the same thing too, and I could have been, I could still be successful in microgreens in this area right now, but it may not be a product that is.

[00:05:04] Profitable everywhere because it already might be oversaturated. So you need to do some research and think about where you're selling your products into and the market there, because that will determine if you can get the prices that you need. We will go over prices in the next module and how to figure that out.

[00:05:17] But for now, think about your market, do some research and figure out what kind of the community is there. And if they want these kinds of products.

[00:05:27] In this course, I'm going to be talking exclusively about growing and selling vegetables. But if you were looking into a small-scale farm, there are other options out there. So you always consider your other options because there might be a better fit for you and for the community. Maybe growing vegetables is a perfect fit.

[00:05:42] Maybe you want to do pasture-raised meat. Maybe you want to do pasture-raised eggs, those kinds of things. So if you go to your local farmer's market, And you take a look around and you see that everyone's selling lettuce. Well, if you're wanting to sell a farmer's market, then you probably shouldn't grow lettuce.

[00:05:58] You guys know what I'm saying, or if you go to the farmer's market and no one's bringing eggs. And if you think you could bring a whole bunch of eggs, that it would be profitable, maybe that's something you should consider, but don't just look at my model here and think that's the right thing for you.

[00:06:09] There are other options. If you want to grow food and sell to your local community. And the usually the easiest way to do that is by going to local farmer's market. Now, which�products are profitable. As I said, we'll talk about pricing later, but go ahead and scope out some of the prices and start thinking about that because maybe there's more of a demand for one thing than the other, which if there's no one bringing eggs to a farmer's market, you'd be able to charge a lot more than something else.

[00:06:32] So keep all that stuff in mind. Now, one thing I really stress all the time with new farmers is that you start really simple. Now, when I started this farm, it was sort of an expansion of like big, bigger things. Like homesteading, like a bigger homestead. I was doing chickens and veggies and microgreens and all this stuff.

[00:06:51] And I wasn't really doing any of them really well. And I think that was something that I really struggled with because as you go from homesteading to farmsteading to farm or whatever path that you take, you're probably thinking, oh, I just have a few chickens and maybe I'll sell a few dozen eggs.

[00:07:06] I really, really, really, really recommend that you start with one thing, one strategy and try to stick to it as best as possible. Because when you do that, you can put all your focus into it. You can get really good at it. Every different strategy has its own challenges. And as you're getting into this, it takes a while to learn those. This year has�or, 2021 has been absolutely amazing for me because I was just growing vegetables.

[00:07:30] We don't have animals anymore. And I was really able to focus on that. Now let's get into the different sales outlets and we'll go through each one and talk about the pros and cons. But as I said already earlier in this video, we're not going to be talking about selling wholesale. So we're talking about direct marketing here.

[00:07:47] The first sales outlet I want to go over is what's. CSA or community supported agriculture. You've probably heard this term before, it started decades ago. And what it entails is a community giving money to a local farm to support them for the season they take, they give them the money upfront and then in exchange for that money up front to support them in terms of buying inputs and paying the farmers, they'd get a box or amount of food from the farmer every week or whatever the arrangement was.

[00:08:14] And it really was a way for the community to support agriculture because, it was kind of like a way of investing in your local farmer. Now, if the farm had a bumper season or had a bunch of bumper crops, did it super well. Well then the people that were supporting it would get an abundance of food. Now, if the farm had a bad year in terms of weather or drought, or crop loss or.

[00:08:36] Then those investors or people in the CSA would get less. And it was a really cool way of getting started. And I think at the time there weren't a lot of options for local foods and it was hard for these farmers to start up. That being said, it has turned into something completely different at this point.

[00:08:52] Most people don't even know what the term CSA means, but they think it means like you just get a box of veggies every week. And frankly, that's kind of what it is at this point. But a lot of these models, you're still taking money up front. And there's a lot of things that you have to consider. If you want to do this, I think this is the hardest sales outlet to master and to make successful.

[00:09:11] And I usually try to talk people out of doing this. The reason for that is that you you have to promise output to your customers, which is a little scary at first. And one of the reasons when I first started this farm, I didn't do that. I was just taking money from my customers every week. I didn't feel comfortable taking money upfront.

[00:09:28] The other thing is you need to know how to grow a lot of different crops. And this is really hard to do. 'cause each crop has its own challenges. And some of them, you only get one shot a year of doing them. And it takes multiple years to get even decent at them. And in that, you need to have really good crop planning because you need to have six to 10 items every week for your customers.

[00:09:49] And. You have to have that all planned out. The other thing is a lot of the crops that you're putting in those boxes every week, some of them are really low value crops and they take a lot of land to grow. So I don't have a specific number, but I would say something like you need to have at least a half an acre, I would say to be doing a decent CSA farm, just because you have to grow wide variety of crops.

[00:10:09] And as I said, a lot of them take up a lot of space and are low value. You also have to manage your money. Because unlike you know, the other sales outlets where you're constantly getting cashflow, you're getting all your money up front at the beginning of the year, and you have to make that work for the rest of the year for your farm and your family.

[00:10:24] I think that can be really challenging, especially when you get started and you don't know what all the costs are going to be and all that kind of stuff. Nowadays, people really want to customize their CSA boxes. And I think that's totally understandable I think. Some people that are very adventurous with their food, that if you give them a box of random vegetables, they like figuring that out.

[00:10:43] But what I notice is if you do that once in a while, people are cool with trying to figure it out. But if you're just giving people random vegetables that they don't like all the time, they get kind of tired of it. And so that's a little bit tricky. So nowadays a lot of them are customizable. There's some great software options out there that people are using to allow people to customize their boxes.

[00:11:02] So they kind of like put in what they have, their customers can log in and then choose what they want. Some great examples of this, of course the best one I can think of would be 10 mothers farm, which is nearby, did a bunch of videos with them, which I'll link below for you guys to check out. Another thing to consider with your CSA is how you're going to get your products to your customers.

[00:11:17] are you going to be doing home deliveries? Are you going to be going to each person's house and dropping them off? Now, that brings up a lot of logistical questions in terms of delivery vehicle, a person doing it and all that kind of stuff, but it might be something that people are interested in your area.

[00:11:31] Especially during the last few years with COVID people might be wanting home delivery. Maybe it's something you can bake that cost into the cost of the CSA, but something to consider. A lot of people use drop sites around town or throughout their region, places like community centers or breweries, or sometimes you'll find a customer that will host that on their porch.

[00:11:49] So there's a lot of options there. Another thing you can do is have on-farm pickup, which can work really well. If the farm is an area. You get to actually connect with the customers directly, which is cool. I've seen a farm that does a point system. So everyone buys a CSA, they get so many points and then they just sort of set their stuff up on a farm stand and they can use their points to get different things.

[00:12:07] And that allows some flexibility on the spot, which is great. And the people that show up earlier have more options. So there's some options there for sure, but consider how you're going to get your products to your customers. And that could be a big part of the whole thing. Now, another thing you can do with a CSA is bringing in products from other farms.

[00:12:24] And there's no problem at all with doing this. If you can find farms that you agree with in terms of how food is grown and how everything's treated. But one thing I really, really want to stress is that you are very clear with your customers that you are bringing in food from somewhere else.

[00:12:42] I've seen farms that do this and don't relay that information or not transparent to their customers. I think that's totally not cool. It's okay especially if you know, you have a farm nearby, that's growing, maybe some longterm crops like potatoes or onions or things like that. And you're focusing mainly on salad greens and carrots and root vegetables and things like that.

[00:13:00] And you can put together a much more rounded box of vegetables for your customers, but make sure you're being very clear with them where everything's coming from now, a quick word from our sponsor Paperpot Co. This module is all about the business side of farming. And if you want to learn more about the farm business stuff, then I really recommend checking out Diego's podcast, farm, small farm smart.

[00:13:21] Diego's not only the owner of Paperpot Co., which is our sponsor for this entire course, but he's also an unbelievable podcaster. Diego does a great job covering the business side of farming. And he's talked with hundreds of farmers about their journeys into farming. It's personally helped me a lot when I was learning how to grow my farm business.

[00:13:36] Check out the podcast, using the link below or listen at paperpot.co. In addition to the podcast, Paperpot Co. offers great tools and supplies as well as additional resources to this course. Huge. Thanks to Diego and Paperpot Co. for making this course possible. Back to the module.

[00:13:54] The next sales outlet I want to talk about is farmer's markets. And I think this is the best way to get started for a whole bunch of reasons. Farmer's markets are pretty common throughout the country here in the United States and across the world. It's a way that a lot of people just sell food and they're becoming more and more popular.

[00:14:10] And sometimes they're getting a little competitive and we'll talk about that in a second, but the best thing as a new farmer is that when you show up to a farmer's market, you can literally bring. Whatever you have that week. And that flexibility is huge. So if you have a whole bunch of something and something else didn't work out, that's where you bring.

[00:14:25] And I think when you're getting started and you're trying to dial in your systems and learning how to grow food, that flexibility is absolutely amazing because you're there, you can chat people up. It's super important to build those relationships with customers, meet people and get to know them. And once you have that connection with them, that'll go a long way.

[00:14:42] There'll be stopping by your booth. You know, every time when they come, they'll be like, Hey, what does Josh have this week? They might come and check with you first, before they check with other, with other farmers. So that's super important. Another thing that's you can do at farmer's markets is collect email addresses from people.

[00:14:56] If you are comfortable with that, and that way you can send out newsletters and have more direct connection with your customers. People really want to feel connected to their farmers. So any way you can do that as great. And any of that direct marketing is absolutely amazing. You might also meet local chefs at your farmer's market.

[00:15:12] A lot of farmer's markets the chefs go to, to get food for the restaurants. So if you, if they're coming and shopping and trying things out and they, you realize what's going on and you chat them up, and maybe that turns into a restaurant account, and you can just skip the farmer's market for a bunch of stuff and sell right to them.

[00:15:26] So that can happen quite often as well. Farmer's markets are getting pretty competitive in a lot of areas. And if you are looking to get into one, please do your research early because there might be certain times of the year that you need to apply. And it might take you a year longer to get into some of these places.

[00:15:41] So make sure you realize that. And the other thing is when you're at the farmer's market, as I said earlier, take a look around. And see what other people are growing and make sure you have something that's maybe slightly different than what's out there. You don't want to compete on price. You don't want to try to lower the price of everything at the farmer's market.

[00:15:56] Like if everyone's bringing lettuce at $10 a pound and you're coming in selling it for six, like that's not cool and no one's winning there. So make sure you bring yourself that as slightly different at the farmer's market. Also keep in mind for farmer's market, there's a little bit more expense because we'll need a little bit.

[00:16:11] Additional infrastructure you'll need a tent you'll need a table. You need to display and a way to transport everything to the farmer's market. So clearly the farmer's market is a great way to get started because you can just bring whatever you have. But there's a couple of things you want to keep in mind with farmer's markets.

[00:16:26] First of all. A significant time commitment and it is going to be every single week. So if it's every Saturday, every Sunday or whenever the farmer's market is, you have to do that every week. And keep in mind, it's not just the hours, the farmer's market is open. So if it's only on for two or three hours, you still have to pack up your vehicle drive.

[00:16:42] There could be a little bit ways away. Set everything up, hang out for a bit, then sell and chat with everybody. And that can be a little crazy at times when it gets busy and also if it's really hot outside or whatever, you're out in the elements, so that can be tiring. And then you have to then pack everything up, go home, unload, and clean up.

[00:17:00] And so there's a lot of time that goes into that. And it turns out to be almost a full day's worth of work. So just because you're not spending a lot of energy, getting customers. other kinds of marketing, you do have to commit to that every week. And I think that's something to consider because when I was thinking about doing a farmer's market, that's what kept me from doing it.

[00:17:18] I didn't want to commit every Saturday to being at a farmer's market, because again, it does take up pretty much that entire day. There's also a lot of flexibility in terms of how much you're going to sell at a farmer's market, paying on the weather. That's a big factor. Cause if it's pouring rain, people aren't gonna show up or it's really cold, whatever.

[00:17:32] So keep in mind, it's a great way to get started. You know, a tiny commitment and there's a little bit of variability with it.

[00:17:41] Third sales outlet I want to talk about is restaurants selling to chefs. This is my favorite way to sell. it is not possible everywhere. You have to, again, research your market and figure out if it works. a lot of people ask, well, how you get started in this and I'll get into all that stuff, but what's great.

[00:17:56] is it can be very consistent week to week. Once you get into rhythm with a restaurant, because they'll going to be ordering 12 pounds of lettuce every week, for example, and you know that you can count on that for the most part, you know that they're going to want that, and you have to try to work that into your production plan, to be consistent and getting your successions right.

[00:18:14] And making sure you have it for them. A lot of people think of when asked me about how to approach chefs. And it's really not super complicated, but it takes a lot of effort and people want easy answer. But the answer I always give is networking like straight up old school networking, talk to people, text people, chat people up.

[00:18:35] Ask for names and numbers, email addresses, that kind of stuff. That's how you get in there. I've walked into restaurants before, and that is something that not everyone is even going to be comfortable with and tried to bring in, produce in a sell sheet that never worked for me. Everything for me has been like a warm handoff, right.

[00:18:50] So I know someone, and they go, oh, I know the chef at this place. And then get in touch with them, say, Hey, so-and-so got me, told me to get in touch with you, set up an appointment. That's huge. Don't just walk in when they're busy, because if you walk in during service hours, that's never going to work out, set up an appointment.

[00:19:05] If they're interested, they will set aside time. They'll say, come in at 11:30 on Tuesday or whatever it is, bring them a bunch of food. Like don't bring them, don't skimp out, like bring them a lot of stuff. Everything you have. And be generous and then go in there and talk to them and see what let them try everything and leave that, all that food with them and ask them what they're looking for.

[00:19:24] You know, they'll let you know, oh, I used to have a lettuce guy, but this and that, or I'm really looking for this for this summer or those kinds of things like really listen. And when you're talking about pricing with them, they'll, if you don't know what to charge, like they'll tell you what they're paying for it and all that kind of stuff.

[00:19:37] But I said, we'll get into pricing in the next module. Networking is huge. But the other thing you want to think about, if you're going to start thinking about selling to restaurants is that consistency. That is absolutely key. You need to have consistent output before you can really start thinking about restaurants because I've gone to this too.

[00:19:52] And it does happen from time to time where you're in a rhythm with a restaurant, and they're expecting all this from you every week. And they usually do a backups because most of them are ordering. You know, us foo food trucks or Cisco or whatever. So they have ways of getting produce or going to local farmer's markets.

[00:20:05] But a lot of times you're bringing them products that they really can't get anywhere else. And they really enjoy that. So if you can be consistent, that's super important. I think having as high quality food as possible is also important to them. They absolutely love having stuff that has great shelf life.

[00:20:20] It's one of the reasons why they're buying from you and not off a truck. You know, the greens are coming from California or war or Mexico or whatever. So that's something you want to keep in mind as being consistent, having really high quality food on a regular basis with them. Communication is absolutely key.

[00:20:35] Make sure you're very, very clear with them. And if you're short on something or if you have an issue, let them know as soon as you know, because if you wait and then they can't get their stuff ordered. In time for the weekend or for whenever they need it. That's not going to be good for you or for them.

[00:20:49] So make sure you're really good about communication. I know I really work on that and my chefs absolutely love it. They do talk about other farmers, how that's not always the case. So it's another way for you to really stand out. Selling restaurants is awesome. There are some challenges there, but one of the biggest benefits is that you can package in larger quantities and you have a lot less labor when you're putting stuff together.

[00:21:07] So I went over a little bit earlier about how to get customers initially, but I think a lot of you have questions about how this actually works in practice and how this works day to day or week to week. First of all, I really recommend that you pick one day for your delivery schedule and you stick to it and you can talk to your chefs, your customers, and try to figure out what works for them.

[00:21:24] Usually middle to the end of the week works best. I'm out delivering on Wednesdays. But if you're also splitting your sales into restaurants and farmer's market, let's say you have a farmer's market on Saturday. Well, I'd probably deliver to your chefs on Friday because then I could just harvest on Thursday and then have that already.

[00:21:42] Friday restaurants delivery and Saturday farmer's market. Now you can have multiple harvest days and multiple delivery days, but then it gets a little tricky and you're probably gonna need more staff are going to be working a whole lot more. So I try to consolidate that down into one harvest day and it really simplifies everything.

[00:21:57] So again, for me, I'm just selling a restaurant. So I've talked to them and worked out their sort of Wednesday was kind of the best day for my customers. And it made sense for me too. So here's how it goes down over the weekend on Saturday or Sunday, usually Sunday, I'll go walk around my farm and take a look at what I have and, and then text my chefs.

[00:22:14] And I just send them a quick message. Like, Hey, let me know by Monday, and I'll deliver on Wednesday. They know the routine already, but I just remind them. And I just list all the things I have and how much I'm charging for them. And text messages seems the best way to work with them. They don't want to get emails.

[00:22:28] Chefs work really well with texting, and then they can just write back to you pretty quickly. A couple of the restaurants, there's like a group message thread, but generally I'm working with the head chef and it's pretty straightforward. I sometimes will change like what I send to each chef, because I don't always offer the full list, everybody, because if I've promised something to one chef, I'm not going to offer that to another, but it allows you to do that.

[00:22:49] And within a few minutes I can text all of them and I tell them, On Sunday. I give him that information. I say, Hey, let me know. By the end of Monday, most of them do, if not, I send them a kindly reminder on Monday afternoon. And they're actually really appreciative if I do remind them because often they often forget and they're like, happy that I reminded them.

[00:23:05] And then what I do is I'll have everything ready to go on Monday. I keep a little handwritten spreadsheet where I just write out. all the counts and all the things I'm harvesting. And I just fill it out by hand and total it. And I just, for me, it works easiest by hand. I have it on a clipboard and it's easy for me to do that Tuesday morning, I get up and I do all my harvesting and washing and packing.

[00:23:26] I get all that done. And then I do my invoicing that night. And if I'm short on anything. And I didn't tell the chef that or whatever, then I will just send him a text as soon as I know that I'm short on something on Tuesday, just to let them know. And I think they really appreciate that. So again, work on that communication and make sure they know what they're getting and what they're not getting.

[00:23:45] If they're, if I have what they, what they ordered, I don't confirm it then, but what I do use, I use square for my invoicing. It's free, and I do take payment via check. So. I just sent him an invoice. It actually gets emailed to them, which is great. Cause they, some of them do see that night before.

[00:23:59] Sometimes they'll get a check ready for me, but otherwise it's like a nice little confirmation that they get about what they ordered. So I send out the invoice Tuesday evening or afternoon when I'm done harvesting. And then Wednesday morning I get up and do my deliveries. I bring two printed copies of the invoice, want to have them sign and I keep the other hard copy.

[00:24:16] They get, but they also have one via email. So it's just. Kind of ties up all the ends there and works really well. And then I just take a check from them onsite. you know, when I, when I deliver an it's all sort of sorted out, I kept all of my receipts from all the invoices and ever had anyone ask me for them, but I think it's good practice to do that.

[00:24:35] So that generally what happens in terms of how I manage communicating with chefs, how I do my delivery. And all that stuff. So I figured it's good to share that because a lot of people are kind of curious how it works, but again, I think it's really handy to keep to one harvest day and one delivery day.

[00:24:50] And if you can try to keep you a restaurants fairly close together, that helps too. All my accounts are in downtown Raleigh. So it's very easy for me to get around between all of them, the deliveries take under two hours. and it's about half an hour from where I live. So. This little system works great.

[00:25:06] It doesn't always work out like that. Some restaurants might be further apart, but if you can try to get them more centered geographically, it also saves some time. So I do want to make you aware of a couple of cons with selling to restaurants, because I know I just painted this beautiful picture of you sell every week to an account and it's great and it's consistent.

[00:25:23] And I have a great time with it and my customers are awesome and, and all that kind of stuff. But there are w some things to keep in mind because. Just as much as it can be very consistent week to week, it can also be extremely variable. And I noticed that this a lot in 2020, a lot of restaurants just straight up closed during COVID when it first started and other times throughout the year, and if you were selling mainly to restaurants, that's a huge amount of food that you have to figure out to sell it to a different place.

[00:25:49] And that's where having like multiple sales outlets comes into place, but. In 2021 also, and even just recently, that happened to me was when a staff member got either infected with COVID or exposed to it, they would close the restaurant down for a couple days or a week or whatever, while everyone got tested in quarantine and all that stuff.

[00:26:06] And then if you were selling 12 pounds of lettuce every week to that restaurant, and then they closed down. Well, you don't have that sale, then figure out what to do with that food and all that kind of stuff and lack of income and all that kind of stuff that happens. Also, chefs sometimes are moving from one restaurant to another they're changing jobs.

[00:26:21] And when that happens, you may lose that account because there's going to be a transition time in the restaurant or the new chef coming in. You don't know that person, or they have their own people they work with, or they're not interested in this kind of stuff. You might be able to take that relationship with the chef to their new restaurant sometimes.

[00:26:36] So there is some flexibility there that some, some variability where you may not be having that account being consistent over time. You have to keep that in mind also people's menus changes changed. So like some of the restaurants are the chef owned and they're going in there and changing out the menu or it's seasonal and you might be like doing great.

[00:26:56] You're like selling this product to them 3, 4, 5 months. And they're like, Hey, we're taking that off the menu. Oh, wait, you've been buying all the stuff for me to read. So you have to keep that in mind though, although it can be consistent. There is a lot of variable variability in there, and you need to be aware of that.

[00:27:09] So it is a great sales outlet. I've been having a great time with it. It's been successful. It's been successful for me, but I want to make you aware of those cons as well.

[00:27:20] What are some alternatives to those three sales outlets? Well, I think the first one that comes to mind is having an on-farm farm stand, which can be really beneficial. We set this up at Raleigh city farm. We did this once a week because we were in an urban area where people can easily come by and we could sell food to them.

[00:27:36] Maybe your, your farm is somewhere that has great road access and you can put up a sign and have an on-farm farm stand. it's a great way that you don't have to travel very far. You can have it be a little more casual, but you can market it to be, Hey, we're going to be here at this time. There are also farms that are doing an honor system farm stand.

[00:27:52] A great example of that is broken, spoke farm here in North Carolina. I did a bunch of ages with them. They have a really successful program where they come in and set up everything in the morning and it's laid out and people just come by and they pay them with Venmo and PayPal and they have a cash box and it's been working really well for them.

[00:28:06] And those are things that can, that can work well. And the other thing you can think about. On farm farm stands or just farm stands in general is bringing in other products from other places like you would for a CSA. And another thing about broken spoke also is that they have ice cream. They make their own ice cream there and on the weekends, it's absolutely crazy there.

[00:28:23] People come in and hang out and eat ice cream outside. By some produce and go home with it. So there's another way to, to bring in people is by bringing other products and creating a draw to your farm, creating that social environment, that community. And I think that's a really great way to do it.

[00:28:38] Another thing you could think about is bringing your products to events like. Kids' sporting events or regular gatherings, like community events or religious events or schools and say, Hey, can I come by and set up from nine to 12 on Sunday or whatever, and you have a table and people know like, oh, if I'm going to church or I'm going to this community event.

[00:28:57] You know, Josh will be there selling produce, and they can pick up some, several weeks. So there are a lot of alternatives out there other than the three. And now let's talk about some other strategies for selling your products.

[00:29:11] Now that we talked about all the different outlets for selling your products. there's some other things I want to mention here. I think it's really important to diversify your sales outlets. I am not a great example of this. This year is I'm a hundred percent on restaurants, but for me in my part-time farming situation here, and my relationships with my customers, it's been working out pretty.

[00:29:30] But I think a lot of us realize, especially in 2020, when COVID hit and farmer's markets started to get canceled. And there was a lot of question marks people started scrambling to try to figure out other sales outlets. So I think it's important to have more than one and not have all your eggs in one basket.

[00:29:45] As I mentioned earlier, do your research on your market, figure out what's going to work for you and what's going to be profitable. I think that's absolutely huge. And think about what your community is going to want to support you in growing and selling to them. The importance of marketing cannot be underestimated.

[00:29:59] Make sure that you are getting in front of customers that you're displaying letting them know your story and why your products are worth what they are and making those connections with people at super important. Another thing that gets often overlooked is just be professional, right? When you show up at a farmer's market or you show up at a restaurant, don't come in, just covered in.

[00:30:18] You know, look clean and present yourself. Well, I don't mean like showing up like in a shirt and tie like that. That would look weird anyways, but put on a clean shirt, don't look all scrubby, like people are trying to trust you and byproducts from you, so you need to sell yourself as well.

[00:30:32] And I think that is a little bit underestimated sometimes, as I said before, consistency and quality is important. Make sure you have really high quality products that you're bringing every week. People will recognize quality very quickly and want to come back and buy from you. If it's at a farmer's market pharmacy.

[00:30:47] Or your restaurant customers focus on relationships. I can't stress that enough. Make sure at farmer's markets, you're learning people's names. You're talking to them. You start remembering who they are and building those relationships with your customers. Of course, with chefs super important, as I was saying, communication is key.

[00:31:02] So explaining what products are to customers or letting your chefs know and letting them know what's working, what's not working. All those things are super important for. Working with your customers in your market and selling your products?

[00:31:19] Well, there you go, whole bunch of information there about researching your market and how to sell your products. And you definitely have some homework there. If you're looking to develop your business plan or work on your farm business strategies and all those sorts of things, please do some research, do some thinking and realize.

[00:31:36] You know what your market's like, where are you going to be selling to and how that's all going to work and how you're going to be profitable for your business? Because that's super, super important. Again, if you have questions, where are we doing? Live Q and A's following each module. There'll be on Monday at 3:00 PM.

[00:31:49] Eastern. If you have questions about this, come on Monday, those live sessions will stay up on YouTube just as these modules will. So we'll see. Next week with module number three, we're going to be talking about crop selection and determining price. Thanks for listening to module two of the Sattin hill farm course.

[00:32:06] If you want to watch video related to this presentation, you can do so on. Josh's YouTube channel by clicking the link below. And if you want to find additional resources. Related to this module you can do. So at Paperpot.co/josh or using the link below. Thanks for listening. I hope it helps until next time.

[00:32:26] Be nice. Be thankful and do the work.

 

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