Farm stands can be simple little tables at the end of your driveway. They can be elaborate set-ups at farmers markets or fancy sheds on the roadside. Regardless of the size of your farm stand, are you maximizing your revenue? Here are three new ideas to increase your farm stand revenue.
Should I care about revenue?
Hey, it’s your farm stand, you can give the food away if you want to. The thing is, in order to keep human beings motivated over the long-term, some positive reinforcement works best. If you don’t need the money and can get enough positive reinforcement to keep your farm stand going without revenue, that’s awesome. Most people need some form of revenue in order to maintain motivation or just to pay for stuff. Hence the reason this blog has a couple of disclaimers about occasionally linking to Amazon or another affiliate partner.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn for qualifying purchases.
#3 Plan for a longer season
In economics there is a concept called marginal cost. Marginal cost is the cost of producing one more unit of something. It’s incremental, an additional cost, as opposed to looking at the total cost of a project. Once you’ve spent the money and time to set up a farm stand, a method of payment, and grow the produce, extending your season only represents minimal marginal cost.
One way to extend the season is to offer frozen herbs in serving-size bags. Let’s face it, when given the choice of fresh herbs options during the summer, sage is not a big seller. But, it freezes really well. If you have some freezer room, you can freeze little bags of herbs like sage, parsley, thyme, mint and chives for a few months and use them to stock a winter farm stand. The cold weather actually becomes an advantage for frozen herbs. I’d still put them in a cooler on your farm stand table for protection from the elements.
Farm stands don’t have to be stocked with produce alone. To extend the season, consider offering wreaths, soaps or candles.
If you or someone you know has a few grapevines or hearty evergreens – like boxwood or cedar – you can make wreaths and mantel pieces at low marginal cost! Start today and adapt them to the season.
If you’re willing to buy materials, you can even make wreaths with inexpensive burlap that will last longer than the evergreen wreaths. Burlap feels very ‘farm stand’. Here’s a tutorial from The Busy Bee. Accent decorations, like pine cones, should also be easy to pick up for free. Consider adding bayberry or holly bushes to your landscaping for some future accents for your creations.
Candles don’t all have to be poured into mason jars or molds. How beautiful would your winter farm stand look with hand-dipped candles hanging from the ceiling? Classic and classy. I got into making hand-dipped candles a few years ago. Do you remember doing this as a kid, maybe at a nature center or an historic house tour? If you’re in the mood for a little DIY, making your own candles isn’t as hard as it seems. It does take some time to melt the wax and dip-dip-dip-dip, etc…you get the idea.
#2 Add pay options
We are in a transition period. Some people grew up in a generation where farm stands were “cash only“. Other people grew up in a generation where you can pay with your phone at most of the places they shop. That second group is starting to forget to even bring cards and cash with them (me, guilty). If you want to maximize your potential revenue, your farm stand should accommodate everyone and their payment methods.
Like what? No, I do not recommend accepting Bitcoin at your farm stand. Virtual currencies are too volatile. However, any of the popular apps for payment processing should work pretty well. I am not sure yet if the easiest cash alternative is a payment app or credit cards.
You can set up credit card processing through any online vendor, your local bank or Square. As you start to look at your options, check the small business services for the bank you already use first and compare other options to their offerings.
If you run your farm stand on the honor system – in other words, unstaffed – your only alternative will be to use paypal.com or venmo.com for small business. Review their options and see what payment service might be right for you.
Don’t forget to advertise that you accept multiple forms of payment. Adding payment options removes a barrier for your customers. Put up a sign at your farm stand right away. Add a note to your website. It takes away excuses like, “I don’t carry cash” or “I don’t have exact change.” Remove barriers like these to drive more sales at your stand over the next year.
#1 Include recipe cards!
By far, this is the easiest way to drive more sales and the Number One thing farm stand owners neglect. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Imagine that you’ve never seen a ground cherry before or never tried to cut up a butternut squash. What do you do with it? Why should you buy it?
I would love to tell you that all of your customers are finding my Butternut Squash and Apple Soup recipe and know just what to do with those odd, rock solid squashes, but they’re not.
Put little recipe cards next to your fruits, herbs and veggies. Make little signs to put up next to your baskets of produce to draw attention to the recipe cards. Make it part of your advertising. It will set you apart from other farm stands, even at a farmers market where there’s lots of competition. You customers will start to browse the free recipes along with the produce. Change the recipe cards to drive repeat sales.
The great thing about this idea is you can complete the task in one day with very little additional effort. Just go to Pintrest or your favorite search engine, enter the name of your veggie and “recipe” and hit search. You will get a thousand+ ideas instantly. In fact, you can save yourself even more time by entering the name of the produce and “free recipe printables”.
Printables are fancy, ready-to-print designs that other people – usually bloggers like me – created for you. One big downside to the ready-made printables…
…free printables won’t be branded to your farm stand. They might not have your same farm stand branding colors, and they might not have a place to put your logo. They won’t be instantly recognizable to your customers as having come from your stand.
Two ideas about recipe card branding:
1) type out some recipes and design your own branded recipe cards
2) look for “free recipe printables” that are also blank and add a sticker with your logo
What do you think? I hope you had fun reading about how to increase your farm stand revenue in the next year. Leave a comment and let us know what you think about these three ideas to increase your farm stand revenue. Do you have another idea to share? Share away!
Are you ready to do some shopping of your own? Try the Handmade Marketplace at Amazon.com.