Checkout Magazine Jan 2008

After another gruelling week I was relieved to be taking a leisurely drive along the motorway glad that I didn’t have anything special on that evening and looking forward to one of those very rare weekends of having absolutely no commitments.  Just as I was allowing myself to wiggle in my car seat to my favourite piece of music my mobile rudely interrupts my mood of optimism, joy and fun with the words: “Where are you Wilfred, there are hundreds of people here who have turned up to hear you give a talk on The Black Farmer brand.”  The shock almost saw me drive off the road.  Somehow a very important talk had been organised for me to give and it hadn’t been put in my diary.  My diary rules my life and an error like that could have massive consequences.

I love giving talks about my brand and I think it is very important to take every opportunity to go out there and meet potential consumers.  I have always been of the view that a happy consumer is the most important sales person you could ever ask for.  A pissed off consumer is the worst enemy you can have.  Well I spent the following week trying to track down as many people as possible who attended the event so that I could send them letters of apology and free gifts.

I hate to enter the New Year on a gripe, but it’s a particular issue with me as poor customer service has the power to make or break a business and I am constantly amazed what poor customer service there still is out there, particularly in the supermarkets.  I often get some alarming reports from my customers when they feedback to me the appalling service they get when they dare to ask a member of supermarket staff a question that is outside the standard ‘where can I find the so and so’.

Supermarkets talk passionately about customer service but when you look under the surface they are left wanting.  My customers’ biggest bug bear is getting hold of my products but when they ask about it in store they are given a range of excuses as to why they can’t get the product and many of them feel as if they are being fobbed off with an excuse.  A couple of people told me that when they asked for my products they were told they were no longer available (very far from the truth) and then tried to switch them on to their own label brand.  This is unfair.  I would like to see some electronic form of the suggestions box in store so that we can get a true picture of what customers are really asking for.  The only way that I know what customers are asking for is via my petition page on my website which is regularly bombarded by people desperate for their local store to stock The Black Farmer sausages.  These requests are sent direct to supermarket customer services, but I wonder whether it makes a blind bit of difference?

But its not all doom and gloom, there are some very definite highlights that make being an entrepreneur worth all the stress and strain: for me its being surrounded by some 2000 women all vying for my sausages.  The Mary Howard Shows are the perfect opportunity for me to meet my customers in person and for them to try the sausages and let me know what they think.  These annual events are where customers come in their thousands to buy my products, but also come to commune with me about my brand.  What is touching is that these good people are genuinely interested in the progress of the brand.  They enjoy my products and actively seek them out in store and they want to be sure that they are going to be able to do this in the future.  This powerful army of women either mother me or are ready to bash up the horrid supermarkets who dare to not stock my products.  I have to say I do relish this annual chin tickling – pure indulgence.  At the end of the show I go away with a boosted ego and with the knowledge that this army of women are prepared to do battle if anyone dares to mess with their Black Farmer.


~ by theblackfarmer on January 18, 2010.

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