“Hire Daymakers” said John Stanley, retail coach, author and trainer. Charismatic staff who make customers’ days will keep customers coming back and those customers will become your best referrals. Stanley has spoken twice for green industry leaders at workshops hosted by the RI Nursery & Landscape Association (RINLA).
To be successful, Stanley said all businesspeople need to be passionate about what they do, hire passionate staff and build trust with consumers. Stanley urged farmers to tell stories around their products and share personal values with consumers. He urged everyone to get up to speed with social media or “ask a teenager in the family for help.”
After initial training, trust your “Daymakers” to run your social media campaign; you already trust your staff to speak with customers - in person. Do not be one of those people who micromanage their social media campaign. Let staff have fun, make readers laugh, and promote your unique story and products.
Offer Passion and Solutions
Offer FABULOUS customer service!
Be excited about what you do every day. Hire “Daymakers” who will help customers, by making their day. Stanley said that retailers need to employ passionate, dedicated people and treat them with respect. Give staff your trust, freedom and the authority to make things right with customers. Let staff accept returns – no questions asked. Ask your passionate staff to create exciting new displays weekly. Invite them to run your social media campaigns and even reach out to traditional media.
“Daymakers” not only earn sales, their enthusiasm leads to happy customers who come back for repeat purchases; happy customers tell friends about their great “experience” at your farm or retail site. This will lead to more business and more profit.
If you are not an extrovert, be sure to hire one to handle your retail sales. Interview carefully to find “Daymakers.” Ask candidates about their passions and values. Staff must be neat, speak clearly, make eye contact and be courteous. They should be proud to wear your logo shirt. “Daymakers” are happy to dress up in silly costumes for theme days – they might even suggest the themes.
Hire those who engage you and fit your business. Be sure to train, respect and authorize staff to handle customer issues.
Solve customers’ problems on their terms. Fulfill their needs and wants. Be fast when they want fast and thorough when they want more.
If you sell at farmers markets, offer recipes or prepared meals for a quick meal they can enjoy with a glass of wine or beer. Partner with a local winery or brewery and offer coupons for a tasting.
If you sell at a garden center, inspire customers by displaying a finished project. This might be plants arranged for a seasonal display of color or edibles set up like a vegetable garden.
Offer your customer an adventure that only you can provide. Your events and frequently changed displays will offer new experiences and bring customers back for more.
Social media and Online Marketing
Stanley stressed that social media is not a passing fad. This really is the future. While there is still value in a website for reference and credibility, their use is declining as social media gets more hits every hour!
Tell the story of your products, services, family and business. Let customers bond with you and that matters to you.
“Our industry’s future depends on our making a difference in our customer’s lives,” said Stanley. We need to reach customers by improving people’s lives, providing solutions, inspiration and new ideas.
It’s All about the Customer
Offer status – some customers want to be first. Offer new products for sale at the farm stand rather than at the public farmers market and alert your best customers. Design prepared meals with special names and promote them in unique ways. Offer celebrity chef recipes, meals or value added products. Be sure your farm stand or market booth is clean and tidy.
You and your staff should wear logo clothing. Uniform-shirts and nametags increase staff credibility.
Create a Hero’s Wall – offer status with photos of your best customers enjoying your products.
Offer nostalgia blended with high tech – display photos of customers, farm staff and even your family when they were young.
Tell your story – make friends in all media outlets including weather-people on local TV and radio stations. Invite them to on-farm special events for live broadcasts.
Brag or be the devil’s advocate – “This is the best local muffin in town. It will be yours free if your find one better than ours.” Stanley quoted a local vendor’s slogan. He bought that one and never bothered to try muffins at all the other stands.
Create urgency – Limited product availability can lead to increased sales. Social media campaigns can announce the decreasing number remaining. Products can fly out the door.
Stand for something – have and teach values and promote these values. Local farms offer healthy fresh food, increase consumer health, keep neighborhoods green, employ local people and pay local taxes.
Do not sell the commodity products as everyone else – pick unusual varieties, create unique value-added products or prepared meals.
Quickly admit any mistakes and make things right. Happy customers tell two friends, frustrated customers tell ten or more. No one wants a spoiled reputation. Authorize your staff to take back products, satisfy customers and “make it right.” Do not make customers wait through a lengthy return process.
John Stanley is a retail coach, author and trainer. He has been described as the “Retail Guru” and is considered the leading horticultural consultant in the world. His knowledge can be applied to all green-related industries. Stanley spoke at an all-day workshop co-hosted by the RI Nursery & Landscape Association, the University of Rhode Island (URI) and the Risk Management Agency.
For more information on John Stanley or to sign up for his monthly newsletter, click here or follow his “Farm Retail Talks” Facebook Page. John Stanley has written 14 books to help retailers and managers improve their skills. His books and white papers are available at his website.
RINLA is Rhode Island’s leading horticultural, agricultural and landscape business association. Green Industry members include landscape contractors, arborists, irrigation specialists, masons, garden centers, turf farms, landscape architects, landscape designers, plant nurseries, vegetable growers, cut flower growers, suppliers and allied businesses.
RINLA members are professionals who take pride in their work and uphold the highest standards in horticulture, environmental practices, agriculture and the landscape business. Members are licensed, certified, insured and continue to advance their knowledge as technology, research and best practices evolve.
RINLA has a long history of collaborating with URI in education, training and research that supports traditional Green Industries in Rhode Island.
A similar story ran in the September, 2013 Eastern edition of Country Folks Grower.