The relationship business

Last week, I provided a ‘Market Agent’s Checklist’. But, as with most things in life, it turns out this checklist is far from one-sided.

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A producer also needs to fulfil certain minimum obligations towards the salesperson in order to build a successful marketing strategy for their produce, not to mention a trust relationship with the salesperson. These requirements can be met by almost any producer, large or small. I appreciate there are restrictions which can make it more difficult for some producers than others, but this list is ‘do-able’ if you set your mind to it and plan properly.

Get it right
Here’s the list:

  • Once you’ve chosen a market agency and salesperson, give them a fair chance to produce results over a period of time, as fresh produce markets are so volatile (because of supply and demand, plus a host of other reasons).
  • Aim to supply quality products. If you have different quality standards for the same produce – which is quite normal – then differentiate them through proper grading and clear labelling. You don’t want your top grades to be ‘pulled down’ by the lower grades on the same market floor.
  • Aim to supply consistently over a given period of time. Some producers ‘chase price’ by sending loads to where they think the prices are better. Sometimes they’ll be lucky, but most times they’ll probably not achieve what they had hoped for. 
  • The problem with ‘chasing price’ is that you don’t build brand loyalty among the buyers on your selected market, your salesperson loses enthusiasm for your produce because they never know if they’ll be receiving a load (which means they can’t do a decent selling job), and your price average takes a knock because your produce wasn’t on the market consistently to catch the highs and the lows.

Visit the market
Finally, try to visit the market and your market agent as frequently as you can. I know many producers live far from the market and getting there will be a challenge. But we all head off to the big cities at some stage or other, so make use of that opportunity to call on the market. You’ll understand better how it works, meet buyers and other market people and you’ll build that trust relationship with your salesperson. We’re all in the relationship business – make it work for you.

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