I meet many of those involved, as I provide the training agency directors and salespeople need to acquire the Fresh Produce Commission Salespersons’ Licence, as required by law.
When chatting about what’s involved in opening a new business in a highly competitive environment, I try to always offer positive comments and encouragement. But all too often I see how some of these newcomers can’t see past the proverbial dollar signs in their eyes.
They’ve visited a market or two, listened to remarks from people supposedly ‘in the know’ and concluded there’s money to be made in being a market agent.
If only it were so simple! There are certainly many wealthy market agents out there, but the mistake many newcomers make is to overlook how these people became successful.
They started at the bottom and had to slog many hard hours to build their businesses. The competition was always ready to nail them at every turn, and building a solid foundation of farmer clients took time – a lot of time!
Now that they are successful, however, the challenges don’t suddenly disappear. In fact, success requires ongoing effort to maintain – and improve – standards of service excellence. And in the background lurks the ever-present competitor waiting for one to make a mistake.
A new market agent has to be tough, resilient and on the ball just to survive. It is the nature of this business that farmers and their market agents build lasting relationships over long periods of time – even generations. Breaking through that connection to lure the farmer away is never easy.
The new market agents need to remember that it won’t happen overnight. They have to go out there and get the business. It will be tough, but it is possible – so long as you have deep pockets to carry you through the early lean years.
But I’m satisfied that some of those I’ve met will succeed – in time!