How did you get involved in local food? I spent a lot of my childhood helping my dad who was a...
Growing (and Selling) Pains
For market gardeners, selling direct to households can appear to be the perfect model - cut out the middleman and take the margin for yourself, whilst feeding your local community by doing what you love.
However, in practice, taking on the multiple roles of grower, packer, office administrator, delivery driver, customer service manager and book-keeper (etc. etc.) can feel overwhelming, and that’s all before you’ve even thought about promoting your business to find new customers. All this can leave you with little time to come up for air, let alone sit back and enjoy the fruits (or veg) of your labour.
When we chat to growers about using Ooooby to run their farm box operations, we hear the same thing time and again - they’d like to get out from behind the computer so that they can concentrate more on doing what they love - growing food.
When growing food and selling direct to customers, time is extremely precious. There are so many demands on your time and, with limited resources, efficiency is key when your goal is to make a decent living out of what you love.
Here’s a rundown of what our customers tell us were the main pain points for them before using Ooooby:
Responding to lots of customer queries via email and phone calls is a drain on your time. You want to provide great customer service so you try to give customers what they want, constantly having to check your inbox and keeping your phone near you. Changing Mrs Jones’ order at the last minute, whilst remembering that Mr Brown is allergic to mustard and Ms Green is away for two weeks can be too much to bear.
Maintaining a spreadsheet might work on a small scale, but as your order numbers increase, managing operations using a sheet can take hours of time and the likelihood of making errors increases. Just one small error when entering data can lead to a customer receiving the wrong order. Not only does this result in a disgruntled customer, you then need to find time to put things right for that customer (unless you don’t mind losing them). This might include organising a refund and/or travelling back out to the customer’s home to deliver those extra potatoes that were missed off their order.
Then there’s handling customer payments. Creating and raising invoices for your customers each week is a headache as it is, but pales into insignificance when you consider also having to chase customers for payment. Billing customers can take many hours of your time each and every week and you might then be faced with cash flow difficulties, having not received the number of payments you were expecting.
Household delivery is great for your customers but it can be a minefield for you. It’s difficult to clearly communicate your delivery boundaries to potential customers, meaning you may well end up having to disappoint customers who try to place an order outside your area. Then you’ve got the challenge of figuring out the optimal order of deliveries to spend less time on the road.
Growers are extremely hard working, but they can’t do it all. Their time is extremely precious - the seasons don’t wait for anyone, meaning that crop planning, seed sowing, weeding and harvesting simply has to be done. Ooooby takes the hassle out of selling online so that you can spend more time doing what you love.