Quotes From Restaurants Around The Country

  • quot;I'd like to drive out to the farm stands — but we never seem to have the time—so I'll take whatever you can bring me."
  • quot;Where did you ever get such good looking lettuce, and can I buy some? I'll take all you can deliver every week."
  • quot;I really like the idea that it's local grown and farm fresh."
  • quot;Now we can get things riper with more flavor."
  • quot;I'm always looking for fresh produce."
  • quot;This would save me a three—hour round trip every week! If all your lettuce looks like this, I'll give you $1 a head and take any amount you can bring me every week."
  • quot;This is the best looking produce I've ever seen. We have to throw out 20 percent of what we normally get from our regular supply house. There would be no waste with yours, so I could pay you more."
  • quot;Our summer volume is up so I could use more produce."

This approach has several advantages to both you and your prospective employer. First, the volume you produce six months of the year won't seriously affect the business of the larger suppliers. They won't even consider you much of a competitor. You'll be like a small, pesky fly to them. (Larger, very pesky flies are more likely to get swatted.) Since you're supplying only 20 percent of the restaurant's needs, it won't become dependent on you and panic if you show up with only 10 percent one day. Conversely, it will also be able to handle easily all you can produce if you show up with 30 percent on some days.

See the advantage to you? You sell everything you can produce, and you don't have to fool around with orders.

You must convince the owner that it's to both your advantages if you deliver whatever is ready and at its peak. He'll get better produce and you'll sell everything you can raise. Every restaurant owner I visited went along with this proposal. In fact, you should suggest that he try a little of everything until you get to know what he prefers and the quantities he requires.

Learn His Likes

Even gardeners tend to forget how much time must elapse between planting the seeds and harvesting the produce. You'll have a lot of planning and scheduling to do, so the next step is to get some idea of the different vegetables he would like, and in what quantities. You should know what you can grow well in your area, as well as what will give you a profitable harvest, before you discuss this with the owner. Ask him how many cases of lettuce he uses in an average week; how many bunches of carrots or beets; how many pounds of string beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. (Don't forget to ask how many heads are in a case or carrots in a bunch.)

Then discuss varieties. You should bring along a seed catalog so you can show him pictures of the different varieties of leaf lettuce, the shapes and sizes of carrots, etc. As you well know, a colorful seed catalog is a powerful selling tool all by itself. (Remember how many varieties you're tempted to order every winter?) You can bring a list of those vegetables you're prepared to raise or just mark them in your seed catalog.

Talking Money

Now for the tough part of your sales presentation: the price. Don't be shy about talking dollars. Now's the time. You have the owner interested and probably all excited about this new idea. At this very moment, he's dreaming about having the only restaurant in town that will serve fresh, home grown produce. Review what you're going to deliver: the freshest (within one or two hours of harvest), choicest, locally grown (stress that point — it's a pride point), best—tasting vegetables around. If you're growing organ— ically and he's interested in that, mention it again. Then tell him your price. Say, "I'm willing to grow especially for you. I'll deliver the produce whenever you want it, all washed and sorted, for the same price as you would pay at the nearest farm stand."

Don't mention wholesale prices or restaurant suppliers. No com— parison should be drawn; in fact, commercially grown produce shouldn't even be considered in the same breath with yours. The only thing that could possibly come close would be local farm produce. So you can compare farm stand prices with yours, except that you deliver free, produce a better crop, and will plant especially for his needs. Keep referring to your basket sitting there. If your beans or carrots haven't wilted from all this heavy talk, nibble a few every once in a while. Offer him a crisp carrot or a sweet—tasting leaf of lettuce.

Explain how you will deliver on any day and time that's mutually convenient, that you'll include an itemized bill at the current prices, and that you'll unload and help put away the produce before collect— ing. (That's a polite and subtle way to say you'd like to be paid at the time of delivery.)

If you get the reply, "We pay all bills by check," or "We pay once a month," explain that to keep down the cost to him, you would like to run this business (don't call it a hobby) in as simple a manner as possible, and ask, "You can understand that, can't you?" Explain that you'd like to devote all of your time and talents to raising the best possible vegetables rather than to a lot of bookkeeping and banking, and you'd appreciate it very much if he could go along with this, especially since, compared to his volume of business, you're just a little guy, and just starting out. (He'll remember the day he started, and he'll probably wish he could return to those days when it was so simple to run a business.)

Now you're down to the final point: will he or won't he? Many potential sales are lost because the salesman is afraid to ask, "Will you buy?" All the books and articles on salesmanship stress this important step called "closing the sale." Why is the salesman afraid to ask? Well, it's because of a very basic trait of human nature: we're afraid of failure. So, if you don't ask, they can't say "no." The natural tendency for many people is to thank the person for his time and interest, leave an order form, and get out of there with everyone smiling. You hope he will fill out the order form later. That's the easy way, but unfortunately it's not good business.

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