Producer and market agent – Is there a trust relationship?

In The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey explains how ‘trust’ can be measured in monetary terms just like any other activity or product in a company, and can make either a positive or negative contribution to the finances of the business.

Trust is hardly a tangible product and, like the word ‘love’, is frequently abused by the unscrupulous. But it’s real nonetheless, and a commodity that ensures success. As Covey points out, the less trust there is between two people, the slower the transaction becomes, as measures are put in place to protect their respective interests. This increases costs, which can be calculated in monetary terms. Conversely, when trust is strong between two people, the speed of the transaction increases and cost comes down – good news for the bottom line.

Building a relationship
If we apply Covey’s philosophy to the relationship between producer and market agent, it’s immediately apparent that their business relationship will founder quickly if there’s no trust between them. As I’ve said before, shipping valuable fresh produce hundreds of kilometres to a market and entrusting it to an agent to sell requires generous helpings of trust!

But the agent must also be able to trust the producer. If a farmer hops from one agent to another continually seeking ‘better prices’, he will destroy any hope of building trust with one particular agent – not least because that agent doesn’t know if he can rely on that farmer. Consequently, the agent cannot be expected to invest the same effort in the relationship as he would with a ‘trustworthy’ producer.

Reliability – a key factor in Buyer loyalty
All these factors mean that buyer loyalty will suffer too. Buyers like to know that they will find their favourite brand on a particular agent’s floor. And if it’s not there, there’s a danger that they may switch to another brand. Producers who understand how a market functions know that they need to give their agents a fair chance over a reasonable period before judging the agent’s performance. Trust becomes a key component of that relationship – a tangible, financial asset.

Contact Mike Cordes at [email protected]. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.