Sales Plan

I used to use a sales plan that almost sold itself. I'd get all cleaned up in my good garden clothes. If my garden were producing, I'd pack a huge basket of the best-looking, most colorful choice vegetables I could find. I'd wash and shine everything till it sparkled and fill the basket to overflowing. Then I would rush it to the restaurant for a short interview with the owner/manager.

Should you make an appointment? In general, I'd say no. That's contrary to most business advice, but restaurant owners are usually in and available. What I would do is find out the restaurant's slowest time of the day. Then I'd pick a bright, sunny day and phone just before that time to make sure the owner is in and not tied up with his accountant or interviewing a new chef. I wouldn't ask to speak to the owner because he will want to know why you want to see him. It's hard to tell the whole story over the phone, so just take a chance and go in to see him. You may have to wait a little, maybe half an hour, but the only damage will be that your vegetables may wilt a little. Keep them in as cool a place as possible while you're waiting. Don't set them out in the sun or leave the basket in the car.

When the owner sees the basket his reaction is usually, "Why, isn't that beautiful!" (If it's not, that's not your restaurant.) Your opening statement should be, " How would you like to get this every day, fresh from my garden to your restaurant?" He'll most likely say yes (or again, this isn't your restaurant). Introduce yourself; tell him where you live and explain a little about square foot gardening. Tell him you can produce the freshest, best-tasting vegetables—in quantity—and can deliver them within two hours of harvesting. Assure him that every delivery will look like this, with everything selected, culled, and washed.

After the first flurry of reaction and exchange of information, he will probably say, "But I buy from two big suppliers now and they keep me supplied all year long. You couldn't do that. Besides, I would need twenty crates of lettuce every week — that's 400 heads. How could you do that?"

And here is your biggest, most important selling point (and insurance for staying in business); Tell him that you don't want, and could never handle, all his business. You would like to deliver enough fresh, choicesaladfixings each week to amount to about 20 percent of his totalneeds. Yourproduce wouldonly supplement his present supplies.

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