Filling you CSA membership using 1-on-1 follow up

Depending on where you farm, you may be one of many farms feeling the effects of CSA ‘market saturation’. There simply are more farms offering CSA shares than ever before (which is great!) The thing is, the population of consumers looking to buy CSA shares has not increased proportionally. So… we end up with situations where great farms, offering great products, are still 10-20% short of their registration targets.

There are plenty of strategies to mitigate this trend (that I would love to look into in future blogs posts), today I want to talk about the power of following up… and doing so personally (ie. not only through mass emails to our past membership lists.)

In today’s busy, modern world, your registering for a CSA share is not a priority for (the majority of) your clients… I’m sorry to break it to you, but it just isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, they love your CSA… it’s just that they are already inundated with email, facebook posts, etc and lead busy lives. They’re willing to eat your delicious veggies and support you farm, but they need support to getting there.

This is where following up in a personal manner comes in. Not to harass them with some lame offer like a telemarketer or a spammer… but to genuinely support them in the process to registering for a CSA share that they would love to recieve.

It turns out that 20-30% of non-renewed members will re register simply following a phone call (excluding the people who have moved away from the area).  Isn’t that wild!

The thing is… It is so much easier to ignore a mass message than a personal one. So, this follow up needs to be as personal as possible.

I suggest the following approach:

  1. In order to make the task more manageable, we need to try and eliminate people from list who have a legitimate reason for not renewing (they moved away, they got divorced, etc).
    1. I suggest starting with a reminder email to your list of non-renewals inviting them to register for the current season, and asking a quick survey question regarding why they have not yet renewed (multiple choice question, using a google form directly embedded in the email, with one of the answers being ‘I moved way’)
    2. Remove the people who have moved away from your list.
  2. Of the remaining people, start by identifying 20-30 people who are the most likely to renew and CALL THEM ON THE PHONE. If you are shy about this, email me and I would be happy to have a mini coaching session with you (bonus for you, my reader). Remember, you are not pestering them. You are being of service by supporting them to eat your top quality freshly harvested veggies!
  3. Send personal emails to the rest of the list… as in not a mass email… not something MailChimp just stuck their name on… really a 1 to 1 email. You can copy and past a template for the body of the email, but add a personalized opening.
  4. If you’re still short, start calling the rest of the list.

I know it can be intimidating to call people up, none of us like being rejected. But remember… It’s not personal, it’s just business!

One thing that becomes evident in all this, is the need for quality information of your clients. Whoever is interacting with your clients on a weekly basis at the CSA drop off needs to have a system for taking notes and rating people based on their perceived enthusiasm for your product. At the very least, during the last couple of weeks of the CSA season, notes need to help you the following year identify who is worth calling if they do not renew.  As with so much on the modern organic vegetable farm… it comes down to keeping great records!


Who are the 20-50 people on your list who are the most likely to renew?

Is there someone on your team or in your entourage that is enthusiastic and your would entrust with this task?

May the force be with you!

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