What are your customers saying about you?

When I began selling raw milk 6 years ago I had an extra fridge in my garage, gave my customers the code to open the garage door any time of day so they could get their milk.

We kept it swept and dusted, but it was still a garage.

I soon sold enough milk to pay for us to transform an old shed into a cute but small farm store, just large enough to store milk and eggs and have one or 2 people picking up at once.  It also was clean and decorated pretty cute yet quickly became too small.

After bursting at the seams the last year selling pork, chicken, beef, eggs and milk out of this little farm shed, we finally just built a new and larger Farm Store.

farming, csa, raw milk, sustainable, start a farm, grassfed, pasture rotation, intense rotational grazing, how to farm, hobby farmer, homesteading, joel salatin, polyface, women who farm, charlotte smith

New: The Pink Door Farm Store!

It’s gorgeous!  My cousin, an interior designer, planned and decorated the whole thing.  I gave her my inspiration from my favorite Pinterest posts and she flew with it.

We now have this charming building, decorated with the most exquisite taste, sort of a Swedish feel with gray-blue walls and a gorgeous chandelier, a fancy carpet, and full of freezers of meat and fridges of milk and eggs.

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I’m not telling you this because I think you have to go out and hire a designer to redecorate your place of business

(I wouldn’t stop you though!)  I’m sharing this with you because I’ve found in all my years of working with customers that they don’t just buy because of what you sell.

They buy for so many more reasons than that.  They buy because of why you do what you do, they buy because of who you are and how important you make them feel. 

The buying experience must be as high quality as your product

Our farm customers drive out here a long ways to purchase meat and milk of such high quality it can’t be found anywhere else.  It was important to me that their whole buying experience and their trip out to the farm be of the same high quality. Over the last 6 years I’ve striven to be able to do that to the extent that I was financially and physically able.

They tell their friends they just HAVE to come shop here!! And guess what? Their friends do come shop here!!  And we are so grateful.  They ask if they can bring a group, and 3 or 4 people will jump out of their car to buy our goods and rave about the setting and the store.

It’s super important that your customer buying experience match the quality of the products you sell.  My customers tell me stories all the time of places they used to shop where the experience didn’t match the product and it drove them away and they’d rather pay a little more money and drive a little further in order to buy from someone they trust.

I don’t ask for these stories of bad experiences – they just want to vent and are comparing it to their new experience.

And remember – they don’t tell you if they aren’t happy with their experience at your place, your shop,  your booth – – they tell others.

Psychologically, if someone is buying a really high-quality product but there’s some incongruity, such as the farm they drive to is messy or dirty, the lawn isn’t mowed, the weeds are taking over, or there are piles of things lying around, (or grouchy owners like we’ve talked in the past) they won’t feel so attracted to buying your product.  And I hear stories like this all the time!

Then you spend all your time finding new customer because after one trip out they aren’t coming back.  This turnover will do you in!

One of our customers used to buy meat from a farm near ours.  They had a gorgeous website that I have admired, too, for years.  But when my customer went out to pick up her order it was just out in a corner of their barn, there was a concrete floor and coolers all around full of meat.  It was cold, dark, dingy, and not at all what she had envisioned after seeing their beautiful website.

The beautiful website set her up to have this enchanting experience at the farm and instead it was far from it.  The incongruence gave her an off feeling and she never wanted to go back.

It wouldn’t have cost much or taken much time to make that cold, unprofessional warehouse feel like a warm, inviting place that matched the quality of their grass fed beef.

Much of the time this thinking is subconscious –

People can’t tell you straight up why they don’t want to shop at a place again, instead it’s a ‘feeling’ they have that stops them from going back.  They may not be able to verbalize the dirt, disorganization, flies, employees that aren’t welcoming – they just know they don’t want to experience that again.

Others tell me about dirty, messy places that they bought products from once because they felt stuck then refused to go back.

This attention to detail is not just incredibly important, it will put you out of business if you don’t tend to it.

The aesthetics, smells, organization, happy-faced people are a larger part of your business then you think.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive!! I only bought one new thing for my recent Farm Store move and it looks like a living room out of Traditional Home Magazine.  Everything besides the chandelier was used! And some of it many years old.

If you’ve thought aesthetics didn’t matter much because your product is so great, then think again.  Aesthetics are as important and will be the key to customer retention.

The only way you’ll be able to raise your prices and not lose customers is to have a deep relationship built on trust.  That comes from having a great product, yes, but also from having the customer experience of everything else besides the product be just as lovely.

People don’t buy what you sell, they buy why you do it, who you are, how you look, how your place of business and employees look and how you and it all makes them feel!!

And if that doesn’t match up with what you sell they won’t buy.  

Where can you start?  Give everything a deep cleaning.  Make sure thinks are organized.  Edit.  Throw out, recycle, make sure everything’s swept, dusted, mopped and smiling!  Your place of business should be as welcoming as your home.

Does your sign or your decor, your yard or your booth look like it’s straight outta the 70’s, but not in a hip+cool way?  Then redecorate.  It’s so cheap/easy to find updated fonts for signs, ambitious young people to design a new booth.  I’m here to tell you – people buy your stuff from you —- or don’t buy from you —— because of this.

You might think this is an insignificant detail you don’t have time to deal with now, but if you don’t you will lose customers.  Fact.

Tell me in the comments –  is there anything you can do to make your customer experience match the products they buy from you?

Love, hugs, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Charlotte

PS: Tour the farm store!

Watch this video for a full tour where I share how I sell WAY more product as a Farm Store than a self-serve stand!

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Hi, I'm Charlotte Smith!

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