Over the past two weeks, as the coronavirus response has rolled out, we have received emails and texts from several of our shell-egg customers. They’re asking if we could deliver eggs to their homes, starting immediately.
One customer explained that she was trying to avoid going to the supermarket during the coronavirus pandemic as much as possible. We assume this is true for most, if not all, of the others.
And itâ€™s completely understandable, given the circumstances these days. Since we let our hens winter naturally, we donâ€™t currently have eggs for sale. We do, however, have several plans ready for when our girls begin production.
Perhaps one or more of these can help you as we all deal with the coronavirus.
Have Cartons Ready
Even if, for whatever reason, you choose not to sell your hensâ€™ eggs this spring, your layers are still going to lay. A stock of egg cartons will come in very handy as a way to store the dozens youâ€™ll undoubtedly collect.
If your farm-supply store is closed because of the crisis, check for online resellers who can keep you supplied with these and other essentials.
Decide on a Delivery Method
Those eggs arenâ€™t going to get themselves to their buyers by themselves.
My husband and I decided that, at the current time, we definitely do not want our customers coming to our house like they usually do to pick up their eggs. Our two youngest children are in the high-risk group for coronavirus complications, and we simply cannot risk the possibility of contagion.
Similarly, we sincerely doubt anyone wants us at their front door after delivering eggs all over the region. We considered a neutral middle ground: the parking lot of a nearby park, where our customers could easily identify our farmâ€™s vehicle from its logo magnets and quickly pick up their eggs from a cooler weâ€™d set up within view of our car.
This wouldâ€™ve been our Plan A. Except that, as we drove past the park this past weekend, we saw to our dismay that the entrance gate had been padlocked against the public until further notice.
Set Up Shop
Whether you set up in a park, library lot, or other open public spaceâ€”or whether you decide on a pick-up point on your own property, as we did (our Plan B)â€”youâ€™ll need to properly outfit your egg stop.
We put ourselves in our customersâ€™ shoes: Pull into our parking lot, head over to our cooler, open the cooler lid, pick up their eggs, shut the cooler and leave.
Since everyone will be handling the cooler, we will provide a sanitizing kit alongside the cooler that will include sanitizing wipes, disinfectant spray with paper towels and disposable nitrile gloves. It will be up to each customer to use some level of the provided protection when they pick up their eggs.
This is not only a thoughtful consideration. It also removes any liability on our part.
Over the past month, we have heard warnings against using both cash, which may have passed through hands contaminated by the coronavirus, and credit cards, which can harbor germs.
To avoid the close interaction that accepting either type of payment involves, we will have customers pay for their purchases digitally.
We have had a PayPal account for our farm for several years now as a convenience for customers who wish to pay for their eggs digitally. This convenience will now become essential as it will be the only way we will accept payment.
Take a look online for digital cash options to find the system that is right for you.
Be sure to keep track of your weekly egg sales. This is necessary whether you use your digital payment notifications as records of payment or leave out a clipboard with a sheet customers initial upon picking up their eggs. (Leave an eye-catching note reminding them to wipe down the pens before and after use.)
Itâ€™s not only a good business practice but will also allow you to follow up with customers who have missed a week or two to make sure they are all right.
In these uncertain times, that extra touch of customer service goes a long way.Â