EVALUATING YOUR FARMERS MARKET TO KEEP IT VIBRANT
Periodically evaluating your legal documents, record keeping, customer satisfaction, vendor engagement, and other operating procedures can be an important way to keep a market vibrant, healthy, and relevant. Assessing doesn’t necessarily mean everything gets changed or even that the market leaders are engaged in a long, drawn-out process, but it does mean the market is being intentional about its overall health and the impact your market is having on not only your customers and farmers but to the community in general. Here are some tools & resources to help get your market thinking about reassessment:
- Evaluate Your Market Using Farmers Market Metrics is a training series from the Farmers Market Coalition that will help you gather, manage, and report data so you can manage your market better, understand the fluctuations in your market throughout the season and year to year, and integrate your market data with other markets’ data to show a larger network impact. It includes resources on how to collect customer counts and vendor sales as well as resources on how to conduct effective evaluation surveys. Also, see FMC’s Farmers Market Metric Guide for lots of great tools to collect and share your metrics data.
- Farmers Market Assessment Tool from the University of California Davis will help your market choose and implement evaluation strategies for your particular market. It will help your market distinguish between types of evaluation tools and their appropriate uses, decide how to evaluate your market, collect data, and interpret data and reach conclusions.
- Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development is a Kentucky non-profit that offers several services to help evaluate your farmers market including a business review, a marketing analysis, business management, and operations analysis, and record keeping assessment. See their website for more details.
- Assessing the Barriers to Increasing Customer Participation at the Market Shifting preferences and priorities for today’s FM shoppers is a key focus of this research from Cornell University released in August of 2019. The next generation of potential customers is emerging with different needs and expectations. In an increasingly competitive environment for local foods, FM managers and farmers need to evolve their marketing strategies to best match those changing needs and expectations.
- Step-by-Step Tips For Creating a Market Survey: Collecting information and asking for customer feedback is a great practice for any business, including farmers markets and vendors. Here is a guide from the Washington Farmers Market Association that will help you create an effective survey.
- Examples for End of Year Surveys for Customers and Vendors: Here is a list of questions developed by the U.K. Center for Crop Diversification that you can use to get feedback about your farmers market from both your vendors and customers. To learn how to create a good survey, see the beginning of this webinar recording where Brett Wolfe describes how to use this document.
- Succession Planning: Create a Legacy Binder. Board members come and go. Market managers move on to other jobs. A legacy binder is a collection of files and documents, both current and historical, about a farmers market organization. It creates a simple way to build and share institutional knowledge. New vendors, management, or board members might have ideas or suggestions for changes to market practices, and being able to learn what has been done before (and why) can help provide important context for market decisions. This one-pager from the Farmers Market Legal Toolkit lists important documents that should.