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Departments - Editor’s Letter

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September 17, 2019

Know your customer. It’s one of the most basic tenets of business, but it’s one that can often be hard to track — especially if you don’t get face time with the people you sell to on a regular basis.

But growers are making the time and effort to truly collaborate with their customers and cater their produce to their exact specifications. Ryan Pierce, owner of Fresh Impact Farms, is doing just that by talking to each and every chef he delivers to.

Pierce thrives on feedback, and is innovating the growing process to create high-quality, hyperlocal food in a small, 1,000-square foot operation. He has a direct line to restaurants all over the Washington, D.C. area, creating the exact flavor, texture and color his customers want.

That kind of attention to detail and customer service may very well take him to new levels (and lots of new flavor profiles.) Pierce is breaking the mold, and chefs are loving it. You can read more about the chef-grower relationship in this month’s cover story.

Trends vary throughout the U.S. and Canada, and what might be in high demand for a greenhouse in Kansas, might not be popular in New York. It all depends on your unique customers. So while nationwide trends are always good to keep an eye on, it all comes down to your area.

Sales numbers can always tell you what’s working and what’s not, they can’t tell you about opportunities to grow and tweak your offerings to be even more successful. There could be a niche you haven’t thought of or a plant customers are looking for but can’t find, and you’ll never know until you ask.

Feedback, while not always easy to gather or process, is key to improving any business’ operations and outputs. Whether you’re talking to customers in a retail setting, at a delivery, on the phone, through a mailer or in an email, leave the lines of communication open. And while customers will likely tell you when you’re doing something wrong, they might not always be telling you when you’re doing something right, or when you could be doing something new.

However you choose to gather feedback, don’t let it go to waste. At the end of the season, use it strategically to plan for the coming year. And don’t forget to let your customers know that you appreciate their comments (both positive and negative) to keep the feedback coming. If your customers feel that they’re being heard, that’s a win of its own.

Kate Spirgen, Editor | kspirgen@gie.net | 216-393-0277