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16 August 2002


The farm shop column by

retail expert John Stanley

ONE of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume that customers know what you sell.

Always start with the fact that customers dont know what your products are. And they need to know the benefits before they know the price.

Research shows that the best signs are laid out as follows:

1 Name of product at top centre of sign, large, bold print

2 Then list, in bullet form, three benefits the product offers to consumer.

3 Put the price. Then give a motivator to buy at bottom, ie Great for BBQs!

"Benefits" is the important word. They dont want to know your produces features, they want to know what it will do for them.

Advise them on the health benefits of the particular produce and give them tips on how to cook it. Dont assume that they know; the majority dont. Ill bet the majority of your customers dont know tomatoes can help reduce cancer in middle-aged men or that Chinese radish can help them slim.

Make sure one person is responsible for doing your signs – the key is consistency and ensuring they always look "fresh".

Signs are best positioned above the produce display, they are easier for customers to see.

I prefer to use black or green ink for signs, red ink suggests cheaper produce to some people and may damage your image.

I recommend you also promote 10% of your produce using a more prominent sign. Change your promotion at least monthly. On a farmers market stand, you may need to change the promotion weekly to maintain your customers interest.

Remember, a well balanced, professional signage strategy is equivalent to having an extra person in your team.

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5 July 2002


The farm shop column by

retail expert John Stanley

IRECENTLY visited a farmers market and it soon became clear that the stallholders doing the business were the ones who knew how to effectively merchandise and display in a small space.

Here are my top hints to maximise sales:

1The height between chin and belly button is where you make your most sales. So ensure your display table is at the correct height.

2 Create some raised, round table displays on your display bench using baskets or other suitable props. This will generate more sales.

3Use bright coloured produce at the ends and in the middle of your display table. This will generate more sales across the whole selling area.

4Indicate best sellers with a sign. It always works.

5Your table must always look clean – as cleanliness is always the number one when customers are selecting products.

6Never let your displays go below half full. If you do, some customers will believe the best produce has already been sold and your sales will drop off dramatically.

7Create a slope for your display table. This improves your display and hence increases your sales. This may mean you will need to dummy up the back of your display bench using empty boxes.

8 Make sure all your produce has a sign on it. It is very difficult to sell if you rely on customer assumptions and verbal knowledge.

9Provide tastings. It always works and it gets potential customers involved in your stall. Once they have tasted, they are more likely to buy.

10Make sure you are clearly identifiable as the seller. Have a team uniform with your business name or slogan on it. This will make you stand out from the crowd. Dont be shy about standing out – thats what retailing is all about. You and your stall have to be the ones that are noticed.

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7 June 2002


The farm shop column by

retail expert John Stanley

ONE of your objectives is to increase the average sale/customer.

It is easier to increase sales by 20% if you can get your existing customers to spend that extra 20%, rather than get 20% more customers.

To do this, the easiest approach is to analyse how you start a conversation with potential customers. Your first few words alone could raise or lower sales by 20%.

Research shows that the lowest figure is achieved by people who start a conversation with: "Can I help you?" or "Are you all right?"

The British dislike talking to strangers and their natural response to these questions is: "No thank you" or "Im just looking". Either of these responses closes the conversation down and makes the sale difficult.

Your aim is to start a conversation. If you can do that, youve got a better chance of increasing your sale. So, start your opening statement with, how, what, when, why or where. One of these simple words can make a big difference to your bottom line.

For example, "Good morning, how can I help you?" could increase your average sale by £2-£3 compared with "Good morning, can I help you?"

A walk around any farm shop or farmers market will soon reveal the top salespeople. They use what is called "emotional selling". They quickly identify something positive about a potential customer and compliment them on it.

Its not just what you say. Your potential customers will purchase more from smiling faces that make eye contact. The real key is to recruit people with personality into the selling roles.

Keep a record of your average sale and ensure all sales people know it. Set them achievable targets and reward them when they exceed those targets.

Selling is fun as long as everyone has the skills and knows the rules of the game.

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3 May 2002


The farm shop column by

retail expert John Stanley

THE perfect advert may not exist, but you can try to produce one for your farm shop.

The perfect one grabs the potential customers attention before they absorb the information on other adverts – you may be competing with up to 1000 others.

Consider the following pointers for your next advert in your local newspaper:

1 If you have an unusual shape logo, use it as the frame for your advert. Most adverts are rectangle and use all of the space. It is space that could work effectively for you.

2 Dont put your company name at the top of the advert. Potential buyers are not interested in seeing your name first. They want to be stimulated with an idea. Your headline should be an attention grabber such as "The best slimming vegetable in the world!" or "The natural cancer beater!"

3 Dont state the obvious. People expect you to sell potatoes – you dont need to tell them.

4 People remember pictures – so use pictures or artwork whenever you can.

5 Your name, address and contact details should go at the bottom of the advert. This is when the customer needs to be brought to action on where they should go.

6 If you dont have a unique logo to use as a border for your advert, then curve the edges of your border at the corners, it gives the perception that you are a friendlier business.

7 If you can control the placement of your adverts, ask for the lower left-hand corner of the page. Plus, aim at the first three pages.

Remember, adverts should only be a small part of your promotional strategy. They are needed to help get new customers, however, relationship selling with your existing customers is still your most effective advertising.

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5 April 2002


The farm shop column by

retail expert John Stanley

SUPERMARKETShave really raised the bar when it comes to freshness, but farm shops should now be raising it even further.

Produce as fresh or fresher than the supermarket is essential. But you can have an edge over the supermarket by having fresh people – something they find difficult to achieve. Your average sale will grow if you recruit people with personality and then provide them with product knowledge.

One of the worlds top retailers in this industry is Pete Luckett, who runs Frootique in Canada. His fruit and vegetable shop has become a multi-million $ business, despite the fact its surrounded by supermarkets.

Every time I go to Frootique, Mr Lucketts team is having fun plus they know the facts about the benefits of their products.

How do you achieve the dream team to grow your business?

&#8226 Recruit people with personality. You need people who are happy to make eye contact with a stranger and are able to start a conversation.

&#8226 Train your team to be customer friendly. Make sure all team members are trained in the skills of communication and selling; using body language in retailing; using open, closed and leading questions and being a good host.

&#8226 Have a monthly product knowledge session. Get one of your team to chair it, take one product and brainstorm all you know about its origins, its health properties, how to cook it and so on.

Promote that product in your shop during the next month. Place it in a prominent position and create a poster or sign stating three benefits of that product – any more will confuse your customer.

Recruit for personality, train for knowledge and watch your fresh produce sales and your profits soar.

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