And now, part 2 of what we learned in 2017, and where we are going in 2018.
Word of mouth matters
You wouldn’t believe the number of people who walk in the door and say, “My friend said I HAVE to come and see your farm!” There is no better validation of your work than having someone recommend you to a friend. It shows a trust that the original customer places in you, that you will live up to their billing and not make them look stupid by recommending you. We take that trust seriously and really appreciate every one of our recommendations. I try to find out who the customer was if I can and thank them personally but things have grown to a point where I cannot do that much anymore, which I don’t like.
What has been interesting is that these word of mouth referrals may come in more than a year later. “Well duh, of course it takes a while for someone to come for the first time.” But when the person comes in, we find they live in Eagle Ridge which is literally next door. That means they’ve been driving past us for over a year, with a referral from a trusted friend rolling around in their head, and yet they took a year to stop in. Nothing exactly wrong there, but certainly an opportunity.
Always recruit new customers
This one seems to be the opposite of our focus/no advertising philosophy. I’ve heard it said, and our experience validates it, that 90% of your customers will be gone in 2 years in this industry. They move, change jobs, change shopping habits, go on a new diet, go off of the new diet. Whatever. That means to be viable, you have to ALWAYS be gaining new customers. This is the opposite of my previous industry where I had customers who’d done business with my father in the 60s and who I still did business with when I sold out.
The realization that most of your customers will leave despite your best efforts almost makes you think that customers should be viewed as disposable. I mean, why bend over backwards if they are going to be gone shortly anyway, right? Ahh, not so fast Grasshopper (anybody know what that’s from), that’s the Wall Street in you.
No, you have to treat your customers like gold because your reputation is what keeps bringing in new customers. Plus after three years of this, we are starting to see customers 2.0. Originally they showed up on a new diet/plan/etc, bought for a few months, then disappeared for a year or so. Now, three years in, we are starting to see some of those customers come back for round two (Hi Drew!). They are even more passionate this time than the last and they immediately get back to business rather than sampling and testing you out because at this point, we are a known product.
No, you have to treat customers as well as you can, because they are what this business is about. That rule never changes in business if you are in a real business.
Continued in part 3.