Friday, September 21, 2012

Selling our farm products - getting customers

In my post last week about putting myself out there to fill up some spots on our weekly egg list, I promised to share some of the bits I've learned about getting customers. I'm definitely no expert, and I hope I keep learning more and more as time goes on, but here's what I've learned so far.

When we first had extra eggs, I took them in to work and hoped that some of my coworkers needed some. I sold a fair number, but then my hens started producing more than my coworkers could eat. Plus, I hated taking the eggs in and asking if anyone needed eggs - I think it made me feel slightly desperate, which I really wasn't. So then I let people know that if they wanted eggs they could contact me and get some occasionally. I also followed up when I saw people interested in eggs, and made sure they knew that I sold the occasional dozen. We had a regular buyer from the start, but due to distance, sales to her weren't as regular as either us or her would have liked, so that led to another lesson - customers have to be really local to make it work & be worthwhile.

Once we decided that we had consistently enough extra eggs to be able to sell regularly, and once I decided that selling just on an occasional basis wasn't exactly working for me, then we sent out that email. But before that, we had done a lot to prepare our market, to convince them if you will, that we regularly sold fresh good quality eggs for a decent price. We did that by offering a free dozen when we had extra to people who we thought might be interested in buying eggs but that we hadn't reached yet. We asked often enough at work or events with friends that those people knew we had eggs available, and a handful of them purchased from us occasionally when they needed eggs.

My email was pretty straight and to the point. I mentioned how many hens we have, that we feed them organic locally produced feed and let them free-range in our fields and orchard daily, and that they have constant access to a fully enclosed small yard attached to their coop. I told them that they were still more than welcome to purchase eggs from us occasionally, with no pressure or commitments, but that we had a list of weekly purchasers with some available spaces on it.

With our 11 hens, especially lately with one of them invariably broody, we have 4 or 5 dozen extra eggs a week. That means that I feel comfortable having 4 people who want to buy from us weekly, and I think we could likely pull off 5 if we were sometimes willing to give our personal eggs up to ensure that every week we had an extra 5 dozen. At the moment we don't have our list quite full, which actually works out well as we are still able to supply our occasional customers with eggs when they need a dozen, or give away or trade a dozen when the need arises.

Another thing that we would have given more thought if we had more hens and thus more available eggs is to have a sign at the end of our driveway. But we like our privacy and solitude, and just don't have that kind of farm yet. So we've shelved that idea for the years to come, when we might just have more than eggs to offer. What about you? I know some of you shared your strategies to obtain customers last week, and you had some really great suggestions, so check back there if you're looking for more. Any others that come to mind that you'd like to share with us?

Later next week I'll share what we've learned so far about keeping customers, and how careful selection of customers goes a long way towards keeping them around long term :)

Linking up to the Homestead Barn Hop.


  1. Way to go!!! I never got a chance to comment on your last post, but we are so funny, with our Parrell lives! That is a HUGE step to put yourself out there with the eggs. But you have to start somewhere and having regual customers is huge. We do have a sign by the road that we sell maple syrup. Some weeks, we get zero busineess, other weeks, we get customers everyday, so it deffiently pays off. But having the regulars in the spring is key for us too. Our next step is to put it up at local stores, that will be my goal next season. Good job :)

  2. Congrats on having regular customers! I'm looking forward to selling extra eggs when we get our chicks. I think if it's meant to be, folks will find you.

  3. We have a friend that has a much larger operation and had much difficulty with drop ins. Any hour of the day or evening, every day. They ended up putting a sign out for closed days and one for days open. She still has people who do not read the closed today signs... but as I said a much larger business.

  4. We're thinking of selling a few eggs next year, so thank you for the thoughts! I am just starting a new homestead related link up, and would love you to join. If you get a moment, come by and check it out!


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