When you feel exhausted and unsure why your customers don’t return, you start questioning tactics.
Am I guiding them through every season?
Do they know what to ask for when they need it?
Am I making them feel like part of the family?
It’s true that a few core practices can help you answer “yes” to these questions. And that can sustain your CSA customer relationships for years to come.
But customer retention is as much about how you’re doing it as what you’re doing.
The tips we’re about to show you can only succeed when applied the right way, with the right strategy as a foundation.
A New Farm Customer Retention Strategy
What we’ve found talking with CSA farmers and customers alike is that poor communication drives poor retention over time. Even when communication is good, resources are limited, so not everyone gets the same attention.
This is no small thing. As a farmer, you’re not just sending a Christmas card every year to stay “top-of-mind.” You’re shaping the customer’s idea of what a farm is. The message you send influences what they and their friends expect from farms.
That stretches into matters both farmers and their customers care about - health, community, sustainability, etc. Your farm, like it or not, gets the ball rolling on these items in a super-unique way.
The impact of a single interaction can ripple into future generations. And that can be as simple as a good barbecue sauce recommendation.
That sounds easy enough. But a problem arises when different people ask the simple questions a hundred times over. Some customers might need more than a single run-through. Answering takes up time better spent on actual farm matters.
That’s what we mean when we say Culineer saves farmers time.
The platform enables farmers to reach customers with all the answers they need in one place, year-round. You don’t need to answer the same question about storage 50 times or share the same recipe 100 times.
When customer relationships become a two-way street, it’s easier than ever to implement the right practices.
Now, here are a few ways you can improve the quality and longevity of your farm customer relationships, with Culineer as a staple.
1. Give Customers Endless Recipes
Storing an entire pork butt is one challenge. Then, many consumers don’t know what to do with it after that.
They want to stretch it out, but they also may not want to eat the same meal for weeks. That’s where the farmer comes in – many already share recipes with customers today.
Even expert cooks get value out of an occasional farmer tip. At the very least, they see you going the extra mile to help.
Again, repeating this for 100 or 1,000 customers can be taxing, which is why Culineer offers an entire library of recipes for farmers to share instantly.
2. Help Educate Your Customers
Many new direct-from-farm customers are not used to the abundance of a local, in-season harvest. They worry they might let their food go bad if they get too much at once.
Guiding them through proper storage of your products can help alleviate these concerns. How can they maximize the lifespan of their lettuce? Do eggs have to go in the fridge?
How long does smoked meat last out in the open? Should they buy a giant freezer?
A little guidance in these matters goes a long way. And you can make this sort of guidance more accessible on your Culineer farm community profile.
3. Educate Yourself About Customers
As much as your customers want to learn about you, you should want to learn about your customers. This helps you fine-tune your products, services and communications to meet buyer needs in the future
What did they think of the spinach crop? Was it enough? Was it too much?
At the very least, you can thank them or chime in with a greeting.
When you keep the conversation going, you remind customers they hold a real stake in your farm operation.
You can handle all of these conversations through the Culineer platform.
4. Meet Your Customers In-Person
Seeing is believing, and inviting customers to see the farm helps make CSA life more real to them.
As investors in locally-produced food, they get to experience first-hand the people and processes going into it.
You can do the occasional meet-and-greet with a walkthrough. Or, instead of inviting people one-by-one, you can host an event for local households to meet each other.
Bottom line, a customer who sees your farm at least once a year is more likely to trust and recommend you in the long run.
The Culineer platform makes it easy to highlight your farm ahead of a big event so the community is “virtually in touch.”
For many new-ish CSA customers, keeping in touch means more than keeping them interested or entertained. You need to keep them motivated.
Help them see the full value of what you do and where it fits into the big picture. As a reward, you will have more than a buyer – you will have a lifetime partner. And your community will be more aligned with the mission of your farm.
This is the next-generation farm customer relationship we want to bring you with Culineer: a community platform where farmers engage their customers for life.