Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Farm to home delivery? Really?

One of our most common questions is. .. how can you afford to do home delivery,  why not just meet us somewhere?

The answer is simple. .. economics.  Home deliveries just make sense.  Let me explain:

1. Fuel.  Our farm is about 20 miles from Medford.  Most customers are in Medford or Ashland.  At present each week we deliver to 20 it 30 customers. That means we drive maybe 120 miles total and use about half a tank of gas, maybe 50 dollars.  Compare the alternative. .. 25 customers would have to drive about 30 miles each to pickup. That's over 600 miles each way.. . 1200 miles round trip.  At least 10 times more driving and much more fuel spent.

Sure the argument can be made that this cost is spread over 25 customers, but still it is there.  The money is being spent to purchase our products. We want to keep the total cost down and this is one way to do it.

2. Convenience. Our goal is to make buying from a farm as convenient as the grocery store.  Our family spent over a year driving every week to pickup raw milk.  Its tough.  People just don't have extra time today to do this.  We burned out quickly and put  in our own goats. Even with the best intentions, most people simply can't spare the time and expense of pickup.

What about csa ? We support csa , but don't offer one.  It seems more convenient to order what you need instead of getting  a box of surprise.  What often happens then is you still need certain things not in the csa delivery, and end up going to the store anyway. We want farm purchases to be the normal way of supplying your family table,  not the extra things that show up. We support csa but believe true home delivery meets needs more.

3. Customer relationships : we love delivery day! What a great way to meet and chat with each of our customers. On any given delivery route maybe half of the customers are home.  Its heartwarming to say hi,  share a story,  and hear how everyone is doing.  We believe farming is about people,  families,  health. We cherish the chance to maintain contact with each family. There isn't a big truck that carts away the fruits of our labor,  instead we hand them to the people who need them.

4. Customer base: business wise,  the most expensive thing any business does is get a new customer. That is what advertising is all about.  While we certainly need to keep growing,  deliveries allows us a easy way to offer new products to a close group of motivated customers. Each time we produce new products most go to existing customers. The average sale per delivery increases as we gain more representation on the dinner table.  As we broaden our product line,  delivery becomes more efficient and customers rely on us more.  Its a win win.

5. Training: our name Little Sprouts Farm represents our goal of handing a working farm to our children. What better way to do this than let them grow up experiencing first hand the joy of hand delivering the eggs and cabbage we worked to produce?  The  children benefit from the motivation as well as learning customer service first hand.  Already the children ask earnestly to deliver to certain customers who buy their own products.  "But Mommy that's my customer" is music to our ears.

6. Advertising: we have received numerous calls from people who saw us driving around the neighborhood. The advertising value of this is huge!  An added benefit is that it is highly targeted.. .. the most exposure is where we already deliver to!  So over time each stop expands into multiple stops. 

Overall this is a model that works well.  We have grown tremendously in 6 months since starting deliveries.  We can't keep product in stock it sells so fast!  Its easier for customers and beneficial for us, and our customers are our friends. We are very pleased and like all things, we give credit for the delivery aspect as inspired from above.

See you on Saturday !

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