Now that you have a great product, nice packaging, and an idea of what is important, here are some suggestions on what to do and say. Start off with the smallest store you can find (the smaller the better), since the chances that the person you encounter will be an owner or manager. If they express a sincere interest, you can
realistically supply a smaller operation a lot easier than a large market. Start small but always think big. You will want to speak to the owner or buyer, so identify who they are and then approach them by simply introducing yourself with your name and telling them that you would like just a moment of their time to discuss your gourmet produce. Make sure you always have a sample with you (freshly chilled from your cooler). By putting the product directly in front of the customer, you can let your product do most of the talking, especially if you are a little nervous at first. Explain how you grow in a pure environment that is completely free of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Let them know your crop is so healthy because it is fed the finest hydroponic nutrients and purest water. Assure them that you are (most likely) "just down the road," and you can deliver frequently.
Once you have established contact, here's the most important part of your business presentation! If at all possible, open your package right there in front of them, and get them to sample the superior fresh scent and taste of your products! If you can only do one thing, get them to taste your product. That is the single most important factor that will determine your success as a grower. Of course, since your produce has been grown in a clean, efficient hydroponic system, they will be infused with more flavor than your field grown competitors. The produce buyer will most likely immediately recognize the difference in your premium quality product from the scent, texture and deep, intense taste. Remember, good products that keep their customers happily coming back for more will keep them ordering! After you have established the desire to carry your products, your goal with this first account is to get them to agree to showcase your herbs in their market. If they are unwilling to make an initial financial commitment to carrying your products, tell them you would love a chance to sell on consignment. You will need to be competitive with their current suppliers, but if your product is of significantly better quality, you have the competitive advantage. Assume that every reseller is looking to double their money, so if a bunch of basil sells for $3.99, you can assume they are paying about $1.50 per package. Since you are leaving your products on consignment, and your costs (due to the higher quality farming techniques you use) are considerably higher than those grown in the field, explain that upon sale of the produce that they pay you 50% of their selling price. Now remember, I recommended that you to start small so you can gain experience and confidence. Once they agree to give it a try, and you work out a delivery and payment schedule, you are now in business. The next step is to deliver on all of your promises.
Once you establish an account and you visit the store regularly to deliver new product, pay close attention to how your product is selling and determine which are the hot sellers. Obviously, you will want to concentrate on growing the hottest sellers. I can tell you from experience that Basil will most likely be your best seller and most profitable crop. However, each market differs, and you will have to learn on your own what to grow. Keep your resellers supplied with new products, since people will tend to buy produce that is visibly fresh and in abundant supply. If there is only one bundle left, they may have the preconception that it has been sitting on the shelf. On the other hand, once word gets out, your products may start disappearing faster than you can supply them. This is a good problem to have! The next step is to scale your business by expanding your production and signing on new resellers. Seeds are usually readily available, so finding good stock should not be a problem. Follow the direction on the seed packets for proper germination and growing techniques. Remember, the most valuable information on the subject of making a market for your garden is to visit your local markets and see what is selling. Talk to your local merchants and listen to what they will gladly tell you about their requirements. They are always interested in new suppliers with superior quality products to offer to their customers.
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