By: Jennifer Weeber and Margie Stelzer, Farmers Market Support Program Technical Assistants
All markets participating in our FMSP and KDD grant programs are required to collect and report vendor sales data for their market. Vendors sometimes are reluctant to share that information because of concerns about vendor privacy and market managers are at a loss with how to collect that information. But, collecting vendor sales data is helpful to your market in so many ways, and, your vendors are ultimately the benefactors of such data which can be used to increase their sales
How to ease vendors’ reluctance:
- Share the positive effects collecting sales data could have on your market
- Market Assessment: Vendor sales data gives the board important information about market operations. For instance, if you have a special event, you can evaluate what kind of impact that event had on sales to help you refine how you host the event in the future.
- Community Support: You can use sales data to show the impact that your market has upon the local economy. This is especially helpful when approaching civic or governmental organization to ask for their support.
- Grants: Vendor sales data is often needed when applying for grants for your market. Grants are awarded to help your vendors expand their sales, so you’ll need to prove that the grant had a positive effect on those sales.
- Make it Anonymous: Vendor slips can be handed to each vendor who then place it into a box, envelop or other receptacle at the end of the day, week, month or season. The vendors’ name is not on the slip so it cannot be traced back to them and the receptacle keeps other venders from viewing their sales data.
- Make it a requirement of the market: Let vendors know early in the season that sharing sales data will be done discretely and anonymously but will be required for every participating vendor. Most markets report that after getting over the hurdle of initiating a requirement to report sales, that almost all vendors comply with the regulation. As more markets across Kentucky require sales, it is becoming common practice and more normalized.
- Build gathering vendor sales data into the routine of your market: Just as you likely have a certain time for vendors to set up and care for other tasks within the market, make certain to set aside a time for sales data to be gathered. For example, you could have vendors do daily reporting as part of their cleaning up and checking out of the market or you could have vendors turn in vendor slips at the beginning market of each week for the previous week’s sales. Think about what will work best into the flow of your market.
- Engage your vendors in developing your sales data collection system: Creating a space in which your vendors can share their concerns and then work together to resolve their collective concerns can create trust in the system as well as buy-in from reluctant vendors. It also is a way for you, as the market manager, to identify and address issues up front that you may have not considered.
- Offer flexibility in your system/Be flexible: Figure out if there is any flexibility which you can offer to your vendors in how sales data is reported. For example, if using anonymous vendor slips, allow a vendor who is more concerned about another piece of paper to fill out than anonymity to tell the market manager his/her sales directly. Also, if the system you set up ends up not meeting your needs, be open to adjusting it. It may be helpful for your vendors to know going into sales data collection that there is some flexibility to make adjustments to better meet the needs of the market and vendors.
Once you begin to collect data, share that information back out to your vendors to show them the value of the data. If you collect daily sales, let them know what the peak sales day was the previous month and if that correlated with any special event. As you do your winter planning for the next season, use sales data to help the market schedule events to maximize sales. By combining your data from KDD with your market sales data, you can show the impact of the grant on the market.
Click Here for a few examples that other markets have used that could be useful for tracking your market sales. Please reach out to the CFA Farmers Market Support Team if we can be of further assistance to you. Good luck in your sales data collection adventures!