3 steps to help your business survive the changing market

Like many entrepreneurial businesses, Farmer’s Fridge had to significantly adjust our operations during the pandemic. Our main distribution channel is vending machines that distribute fresh food in places such as hospitals and airports, and when COVID-19 hit we decided to cut prices for our healthcare customers, while trying new form factors and distribution channels. (You can read more about our history here). The transition has not been easy, but we are on track to double our pre-pandemic income this year thanks to the hard work of the team.

While many companies talk about “pivoting” their business, I would say that we have not changed course so much as accelerating our mission by responding quickly to the needs of our customers and future customers.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the market is constantly changing. The question is how to adapt to the product market, that is, meet the current market demand, even as your business is struggling to evolve to meet changing conditions. Here are three steps we took to help us achieve that balance:

First step: define your mission

This is by far the most difficult step and can often take years, but defining the lucky “north star” is the most important step in building something great. You can have a lot of twists and turns along the way, but if you’ve set your ‘North Star’ correctly, you can still trust it to stay on track.

At Farmer’s Fridge, I started with a pretty simple idea. I wanted to make healthy food more accessible by putting restaurant quality salads and fresh food in a vending machine, making it cheaper and more convenient to eat healthy. A few months later we had some traction with customers and a major retailer called me up and asked if I could put a machine in their store. I didn’t understand why this great actor would want to partner with a small company operating in a communal kitchen west of Chicago, but I soon realized that our real potential was to apply technology and a direct relationship with customers to transform the supply chain into fresh produce. This idea changed the course of our business because I realized that the real innovation would be to take advantage of new technologies to make high quality, low cost fresh food practical on a large scale for the first time. In short, we were building a whole new supply chain around a product instead of trying to adapt our product to the existing supply chain.

Step two: define what must be true

There must be some things about your business that are not negotiable. For example, only selling food from a vending machine is not on our non-negotiable list, but making sure our food is safe is high on the list. Identifying the non-negotiable items for your business is an essential step in ensuring that new information does not take you off course. For Farmer’s Fridge, we defined them as SQUAD goals.

World class food Ssecurity program

# 1 in Qquality to be valued

Ubiquite

A personal relationship with clients

Ddemonstrated health outcome

The idea is that these five things have to be true if we are to truly reinvent the fresh food supply chain.

Step Three: Listen and Evaluate Against the Frameworks You’ve Built

It’s time to put this into practice. Let’s use our expansion into retail as an example of how we’ve handled this with a recent decision in 2021 to start selling our product through retail partners like Target, the Jewel-Osco grocery chain and the Gopuff delivery service.

First, we asked: is this still true at the heart of what we do, our mission? Yes, we would make fresh, healthy food more accessible.

Next, is retail violating non-negotiable items? No, this is not the case. It’s still the same practical and tasty product at a great price-performance ratio.

Do we have the right to win in the retail space? Yes, we have achieved economies of scale through our Fridge channel and sell the same products in stores using the same distribution network. This means that someone else trying to sell the exact same product would always be of lower quality and not as good. We also benefit from brand recognition through the refrigerator and delivery channels, which gives us even more leverage.

A lot of people have expressed shock at our pivot during the pandemic to home delivery and retail, and if I had thought of Farmer’s Fridge as this salad maker business, I too would have been shocked. . But that’s not how we saw each other. Internally, we strive to use new technologies to rebuild the fresh produce supply chain. While it wasn’t easy, it would also have been harder to adapt if we hadn’t had such a clear idea of ​​our mission. By defining who you really are, it allows you to be flexible but to stay focused while continuing to grow.

About Aldrich Stanley

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