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Direct-To-Consumer Pays Off For Cattleman
"Personal relationships with customers really make this business click," says beef producer Tom Smith of Ashley, Ill., who says direct-selling beef is an unbeatable business plan for a family farmer cattleman. He butchers and then delivers finished beef direct to consumers.
  Smith sells sides and quarters to about 60 families in the area. He refers to his operation of selling directly to consumers as "relationship selling".
  "It's a win-win operation. I can market at a 30 percent premium, and at the same time give the customer a 30 to 40 percent savings in the cost of their beef," says Smith.
  As a producer, Smith makes the most of natural resources available to him on his 288-acre family farm where he grazes his 25-cow herd of Angus-Simmental cattle. He also row crops 150 acres.
  While he is a fifth generation farmer, Smith hasn't always farmed the land. He has a degree in ag journalism and he also spent a few years as a preacher. His mother persuaded him to return and farm the family home place. On the farm, Smith has put to good use what he learned about relating to people.
  He follows a split rotational grazing system using 11 paddocks. He has developed a system of watering his animals, making sure they're never more than 600 to 800 ft. from water. Part of his system includes a 3-acre pond.
  As a direct marketer, Tom produces and processes the beef according to his customers' preferences. But he offers free home delivery of the finished product.
  "When I deliver I make time to talk to my customers. Delivery has really been a plus for my business," says Smith. He talks not only quality to them, but also points out that buying from him results in a substantial savings to them.
  Home delivery not only endears him to his customers, but it offers him an opportunity to get feedback about his product and service. A large part of his marketing plan consists of sending out letters each year reminding customers when fresh beef is ready for them.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tom Smith, 10517 N. Panzier Lane, Ashley, Ill. 62808 (ph 618 316-8685).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2