Archive for Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Schlageck: For the customers

October 16, 2012

While almost every industry today does a less than perfect job of living by the motto, “the customer is the most important part of business,” Kansas farmers and ranchers are one segment that adheres to this philosophy.

It’s been a gradual process, but one that has consistently picked up steam. Still, Kansas farmers and ranchers cannot rest on their laurels. They must continue to look to the future with an open mind and the flexibility to develop new ways of marketing their products.

Our customers are driven by changes in personal preferences and increasing income levels. They tend to be a bit more generous with their hard-earned money in good times and more tight fisted when our economy is down.

Today’s customer will continue to spend his/her money on what they want. Convenience is more important than ever before; however, price is also important and will remain a major piece of the buying equation.

Our agricultural economy will continue to be driven by customer demand. Buyers of farm and ranch products continue to become wiser and savvier every day.

Tomorrow’s well-informed shopper will want, and demand, more information about how food is produced. It will be up to farmers and ranchers to help provide such information.

These customers should be viewed as friends of agriculture who are interested in buying products that keep farmers and ranchers in the business of producing food, fuel and fiber.

We should welcome their input and feedback. And once we understand what their needs are – provide for them.

It makes smart business sense for Kansas farmers and ranchers to connect with their customers. In larger communities and next to urban areas across Kansas, farmers and ranchers are carving out niche markets by providing meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables directly to customers who live there.

By doing so, farm and ranch families have developed the kind of direct, personal relationship with people that eat what they raise.

These buyers become friends and in some cases part of an extended family.

Such customers not only have the opportunity to buy and enjoy quality products for their families, they become more knowledgeable about the product and they know exactly who is producing it.

Customers can find out about a specific animal and how the livestock man raises it and why they care for, and do the things the way they do.

Kansas farmers that connect with their customers will have an advantage. When buyers of farm and ranch products have questions, they will know where to find the expert with an answer – Kansas farmers and ranchers who care for their crops, livestock, land and customers.

— John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. He was raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas.

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