On this week’s episode of Tent Talk we made good use of our own expertise and answer some tricky farmers’ market questions we received from vendors. In this episode you’ll get advice from the Tent Talk hosts on various issues that vendors face. Listen along for tips on sampling your product, incentivizing employees to increase their sales numbers, and what makes a good farmers’ market business name.

To sample, or not to sample, that is the question

Question: “I’m a new farmers’ market vendor debating whether or not to give out samples. My product is expensive and labor intensive (cheese) and I’m afraid it will cut into my bottom line to give out free samples every week. But I also recognize that I’ll likely sell more if people can taste the quality of my product. How do I set up a sampling system that keeps shoppers from eating me out of business?!”

Samples definitely help increase sales, so even though it does add a little to your overhead, it’s worth it. Make sure to include sample product in your monthly budget. If your product is pricey, make your samples smaller. You don’t need to feed customers a full meal – just a taste will do!

When setting up your sampling system, it’s important to first check with your local health department. They will likely have some guidelines. We recommend handing out samples using a toothpick, gloved hands, or tongs. This will allow you, the vendor, to control the amount of product you give out as well as allow for the opportunity to connect with your customers. Don’t just mindlessly hand out samples, you also want to inform and educate shoppers!

More employees, more problems

Question: “I recently hired an employee to work my booth at the farmers’ market a couple times a week. Since hiring them I’ve seen a significant decrease in sales. Although I appreciate a break from working the markets, I’m not sure if I can afford keeping on the help if sales don’t pick up. What should I do?!”  

It’s unlikely that an employee will ever sell your product as well as you do. But, if your employees are well-trained and well-paid, their sales will be higher!

Our first suggestion is to spend a day observing your employee. Are the following standard operating procedures? Do they know your product? Are they connecting with your customers? They may simply need a little more time on the job to get into the groove, or they may require more extensive sales training.

Another option is to incentivize your employee with a sales bonus or commission. If part of their pay is based on sales, it will be in their best interest to go the extra mile.

The name game

Question: “I have been a vendor at the farmers’ market for 3 years and am considering changing my business name because it is difficult for our customers to pronounce and remember. I’m hoping that with a new easy to remember name our returning customers will spread the word about us and we will see more new customers. Or it could be total self-sabotage. Thoughts?”

Finding the right business name is tricky! Before choosing a business name or switching to a new one, we suggest you do the following:

  1. Aim for a business name that is easy to pronounce and easy to spell.
  2. Research other businesses in your local region. You don’t want to choose a name that’s already being used.
  3. Ask the opinion of farmers’ market shoppers. Use your customers as a focus group.
  4. Make sure your business name has longevity. If you’re not crazy about it now, you probably won’t like it in 3 years!

What other farmers’ market questions do you have?

If you have any farmers’ market questions, please send them our way! We would love to answer them on one of our future podcast episodes. You can email them to us at connect@intentsconference.com, send us a message or leave a comment via Instagram at @intentsbusiness, or just post your question in the comment section below.

We also answer tons of questions and talk in-depth about all sorts of farmers’ market issues in our monthly Vendor-101 course and our annual InTents Conference!

Where can I listen to full episodes of Tent Talk?

You can listen to Tent Talk on iTunes and Stitcher. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes. You can also stream this week’s episode by clicking the player below.

Please let us know how you like our podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Reviews let us know what we’re doing right and they help other people find us online.

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