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Saturday, October 23, 2010

You have the space, now use it!

I think a strategy that works well for ag. businesses is utilizing retail space to the fullest. We all know that wineries can serve as sites for weddings and receptions, but how else can retailers “sell” their space during non-retail hours (or at least areas away from the general public)? The possibilities could be endless. What you’ll have to consider is whether or not you have the staff (who are willing) to work after hours, and if the after hours or the non-sale peak you have available would appeal to groups or organizations. Also, do you have ample parking, restrooms, and tables/chairs/etc. that groups might need for their event? Having organized events myself, I know that the “creature comforts” like pleasant bathrooms, comfortable temperatures, accessible parking, are what attendees focus on and complain about.

What are some ideas? I just received a birthday announcement from my six year-old niece. Her party won’t be held at a kid’s themed restaurant or arcade, but at a pumpkin patch. What an interesting idea – an open space where kids can run free, pet animals, experience agriculture, and where pumpkins serve as guest favors. I’m sure that the pumpkin patch is a more cost effective option – and doesn’t limit my niece as to the number of guests she can invite.

You may have considered other ideas for using your space: hosting parties, allowing clubs to rent out an area for meetings (what garden club wouldn’t want to have their monthly meeting in a garden center?), promoting the space as the perfect place for a local wine judging event to be held, etc. I have even seen ag. businesses offer their space for engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, and garden centers who allow couples to get married and have their reception at the outlet - all can work nicely for businesses with a certified kitchen. In instances where just the space, restrooms, and parking are available, it is worth developing a list of caterers that you approve of to make the host’s job easier. Think of what other services might be necessary for a successful event and create a list of them, too.

So, think outside the box – how can you effectively use your space? The payoff may be more than the revenue you receive the day of the event but from the increase in attendees who become customers.

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