The Nicest thing Happened Today…
Every once in a while something happens that restores my faith in humanity. I was working on renewing a few of our VF Subscribers today. I typically do this around the 3rd week of the month as it is the slowest sales week. Why is that, you ask? Payday. Those that get paid 1st and 15th are in between paychecks and and those that get paid once a month are down to their last week between checks. I can’t say it is a proven fact, but my books agree with me. So does my stress level.
I always know when a 3rd weekend is coming up because I sleep less and stress more. Don’t even get me started on a month like this where there are two weekends in the 20’s! But, as I am wont to do, I digress…
For the first time in 3 years we have had to increase the rates on our subscriptions (read below and see how you can avoid the increase!) I decided that, rather than send out a form email, I would call anyone renewing in the next couple of months and offer to renew them early at the old rates. After talking to several subscribers, my renewal list had me call a long time “Chick-A-Week” subscriber who we will call The Nicest Person I Spoke To All Day or NPAD for short.
As I was letting NPAD know that I would be raising the cost of her weekly chicken by two dollars a bird she very nicely interrupted me and said “You know Adam, I receive and actually read your newsletter. And because I do, I know what your margins are on the chicken we get every week.” At this point I am very afraid that I am about to get a lecture on how I come up with my margins or how I should work to keep my costs lower to avoid these price hikes. Instead, what I heard was “I think it is high time we got a price increase”.
It is at moments like these that everything we work for is rewarded. When a customer takes the time to read and understand our business it feels really good. But when a customer puts a value on that understanding, it literally brought a tear to my eye (Laura won’t believe that, but it did!) She went on to tell me about her own experience selling goods at a local bazaar and how that really changed her perception of what us folks that provide goods and services go through on a day to day basis. We are selling you our products at the lowest point we can.
What a lot of folks don’t think about is competition. It’s easy to look at our little company and figure that my competition is Tara Firma in Petaluma, Fallon Hills in Valley Ford or even Marin Sun Farms all over the Bay Area now. But you know who our real competition is? Whole Foods. That’s right, I have too keep my prices in line with a $13 BILLION dollar a year beast. Oh, and they have a store about a solid 6-iron from my butcher shop. And if that’s not bad enough, the common shopper already calls them “Whole Paycheck” and thinks they are overpriced. So when we set about to do a price increase, you can imagine what a strain it is on our stress levels.
But we have bit the proverbial bullet. We have increased prices on our subscription boxes and on our prime cuts of beef. We will probably do the same to lamb and pork. I could go on a bit about the reasons for the increase, but I think everyone is familiar with the drought, gas prices, etc. We have tried to put the increased prices on the most popular cuts and have left the prices the same on our staples. We are very concerned about the budget of our customers who already struggle to feed their family our meats. We are doing everything we can to make sure that if you want to feed your family sustainably raised meats, we can accommodate any budget.
Now, please don’t swing by the butcher shop and ask to feed a family of 5 on a $25 budget and casually mention that “your kids really prefer filet”. I put it in quotes for a reason, that’s actually happened. But if you are reasonable in your expectations, my crack staff and I are pretty handy at giving you a number of tasty ways to eat well on a budget.
I wasn’t going to write a blog post this week. There was too much to get in the newsletter regarding the price increases and current and upcoming promotions and the like. But my conversation with NPAD really focused me on the fact that it’s OK to do what you gotta do. NPAD and I ended up splitting the difference on her price increase. I think we both left feeling like good just happened. . .