It’s all About the Pickles

By John Kennedy

In our local town of Sykesville, Maryland, on each and every Sunday morning in the summer, a farmers market occupies the church parking lot.

The local farmers, folks and families bring their wares to sell and the warmth of small-town America pumps pride into your heart and home.

After the third weekend, the foot traffic became somewhat light and the feedback became somewhat heavy—“same old same old”…”nothing new”…”market shmarket”.

And then…enter the PICKLES!

On the fourth weekend, a vendor set up with about 10 five- gallon buckets of pickles.  There were garlic pickles, dill pickles, sliced pickles, whole pickles.  There were hot pickles, sweet pickles and sour pickles too (In your best Dr. Seuss).

Oooohhh the places you will go with pickles at the market.

All of a sudden, the parking lot was a buzz…the pickle line was long, the cash was flowing and the farmers market was back! ~

Week five:  sold out crowds and sold-out pickles.

Week six: Standing room only as the pickles took the stage.

Week seven: Two trucks of pickles and a traffic jam in small town America.

The pickles needed a manager.  The world tour was on (or at least the county tour was on). They rock the crowds, people patiently stood in lines for at least (I had some “time” on my hands so I measured it)…thirty-three minutes.

So, why on earth would be drive far distances, stand in line for a record amount of time for a farmer’s market and pay $25 for a few mason jars of pickles??

You know…that’s a really good question!

So let’s look at the four reasons people buy.

  1. The Brand: 19% of people buy an item (car, jeans, phones, flowers, Fabiana, and Ficus) because of the brand associated with that item (Mercedes, Levi’s, Apple, etc).
  2. The Product: Another 19% of folks buy because of the actual product (C 300, 501 Jeans, iPhone).
  3. The Price: It’s not as much as you believe!! Only 9% of folks buy based on price. As my friend Bisser Georgiev said to a group of TPIE conference committee members “less…but better”.

In essence, people may buy fewer things, but they will pay more for them.  This economic change and the lessons from the past were “you get what you pay for,” and some folks are still paying for the savings they tried to create years ago—tough lesson!!

  1. The Experience: A whopping 53% of folks will absolutely pay more and come back if you offer an experience worth coming back for time after time.

Creating the Customer Experience is where the money is—consistently creating the customer experience earns new fans of your business, but you have to have something to be a fan of first!

As for the pickles at the farmers market, they had long lines of folks paying more than they are used to because of the experience they received.

Not only from the pickle purveyors, but from the entire farmers market experience.  They wanted to take a piece of that home with them, one Kosher Dill at a time.

So I guess the point that is soaking in brine is that we should all have a pickle experience.  What is your pickle??

A system that I have created drives this message home to each and every client that I am blessed to work with in the green industry.

Firstly, you create a culture of ownership where every employee is at the table and ready to be held accountable for his or her behavior, actions, ideas and outcomes.

Next you set standards to drive the “customer experience” within your organization (professionalism, response times, satisfaction, quality, quirky methods to bring fun into the equation, etc).

From there you deliver the standards and set up a method to track them so there is the next step, which is to measure the standards.

 A short list of things to measure is helpful to keep the momentum going and the team engaged (returns, a perfect delivery day, order fulfillment, productivity, etc).

Next, we have to invest time to remove the barriers. Take a good strong look at some of the things that are getting in your way of “your pickle” (usually either people or process changes are needed to be made)>

And finally, we need to drive consistency.

How are we creating that customer experience” that is a majority of why folks buy from us (53%)?

So, the lesson of the day is to challenge your team to figure out “What is our pickle”?  What separates us from our competition?

What can we do better and more uniquely than anyone else and how do we deliver that consistently on a daily, weekly, monthly and annually?

And don’t forget, the garlic and spicy peppers that no one else carries is what sold out first—great brand, great product, good price but absolutely a great experience at the farmers market in Sykesville, MD.

John Kennedy is an international speaker, strategist and author committed to driving business excellence in the nursery and landscape industry and beyond.  He resides in Centreville, Virginia with his wife, Souny.

He can be found at www.johnkennedyconsulting.com