2Bits: Tips for Farmers selling wholesale—Distribution: The Last Mile
“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great each time or we’ll lose them.”
Delivery of your farm product is the last mile. How you deliver will make or break your brand. Well-planned deliveries put the final gold seal on your perfect farm products. Poor delivery service, will seal your doom.
Excellent delivery service takes advanced preparation, as well as constant monitoring
From farm to store, restaurant, food hub, or neighbor’s house, the delivery or distribution of your products is the final step. Carefully plan your deliveries just like you do your production, harvest, and marketing.
What do you need to know before making deliveries?
- What kind of driving license will your delivery person need? Research your state regulations.
- Delivery is a commercial process. Check with your state’s Department of Transportation. Learn if and how your delivery vehicle needs to be marked or identified. Does your driver need a DOT physical? If so, your driver will need to carry a current DOT physical card.
- Notify your insurance company. They may need to do a background check on your drivers. A pre-trip inspection may be required each time your delivery vehicle is used.
- If you charge for delivery, ask your accountant how your state taxes delivery services.
Create a note card or digital file for each delivery location you have. Ask questions and record the answers for future use
- Physical address of the delivery location
- What does the delivery location look like? Is it dock high? Suitable for a pick-up truck? Do you park on the street w/flashers on and dolly the delivery into the location?
- What is the receiving process? Will you drop off and go? Will the delivery be inspected? Are you required to put the products into their cooler or freezer? Do you need a packing slip signed? Do you need to provide an invoice and who do you give this to? Must you wear a branded shirt or coat? Do you need an entrance pass for security?
- Do you need to schedule a delivery time in advance? Are you penalized if you’re late or don’t show up?
- Obtain a name and phone number for a contact that you or your driver can call if you run into a delivery challenge.
Your driver is your brand ambassador. Drivers are the face of your farm. These characteristics make good drivers!
- Personable—remembering names and faces is important
- Observant—noticing when something looks out of place or is different promotes safety
- Curious—knowing how to ask why can help improve service
- Polite—smiling even when the customer is unpleasant is a win-win
- Appreciative—saying thank you strengthens business relationships
- Safe—understanding driving is dangerous reduces the chance for accidents
Your wholesale customers will appreciate your professionalism in the last mile effort
Selling your farm products at the wholesale level often requires delivery. Planning ahead makes the delivery process easier to manage. Review all these items regularly, just like you review your farming practices. Good delivery will strengthen your wholesale customer relationships!