- First consider holding an “Open House”
- Shearing Day with prospective and yet “still curious” customers
-Education is Key!
Shearing time is a great opportunity to market your animals and their product! Once you have gotten the shearing process to a point where you are comfortable and profitable, consider asking guests to join you in your shearing day. This shows prospective customers many aspects of the life of the alpaca rancher. They become a part of the process and they learn so much about the business of owning alpacas. This idea can make or break sales, yes I know, but I would rather they know everything they can about this business rather than learning that they are unable or unwilling to do what needs to be done. With that, you will have happier, more satisfied customers who are more knowledgeable and more confident alpaca owners! So what do you need to know about this idea and how to make it successful? Let me share with you some ideas.
First consider holding an “Open House”. This is a time before shearing day which will introduce prospective customers to becoming alpaca owners or even fiber enthusiasts. Showcase your animals and crias (if you time this right) in a friendly and safe environment, keeping in mind some people are not around livestock of any kind. Place plenty of signs around with information about the animals so that they can learn without you having to be there to tell them everything. They will enjoy the animals more while learning something about them. Also make the environment friendly to your visitors, as a more pleasant experience will follow to the sale. Please spend time doing little things like the signs and a guest book to get their email, as these little things (there are so many more) will serve you well. Once you have held an open house or two and learned about your visitors and much as they have learned from you, then invite them to a shearing!
Shearing Day with prospective and yet “still curious” customers: This is where having your shearing day process down to a science can help with marketing! This is when having a shearer who understands you can be VITAL. (see last months’ shearing tips) Making sure people see you in a busy but somewhat relaxed state during shearing is important, we don’t want to scare them away! Controlled chaos is what I shoot for, this may include setting up appointments with individual prospects rather than a group.
Take your visitors on a tour of the process. Show them what you accomplish during shearing and why you do what you do. I would also have specific jobs or tasks that these visitors can help with. Bagging fiber or helping with reading the scale can prove to be a very helpful and show them more of what the process is really like and it gives them experience. Most people who really are interested in owning alpacas will be more that willing and very eager to help. Always be available to answer questions when they arise and always watch for safety sake! If you have a larger herd to shear, limit the time they have to spend helping and pull them from their tasks for questions. This is a great time to ask if they have noticed an animal that they particularly liked (as an animal of their fiber) and find out what concerns they may have. This is when that “one” really nice fibered animal is the worse spitter when shearing! You can explain about stress, how spitters are dealt with and how they can manage to get through this one time of year for such beautiful fiber! Also take the time to show them Finished products made with the fiber. This is when you will want to have yarn, felt or other products like socks to show them what has been made with the fiber. It is a great way to show the accomplishment of all the work you put into shearing day. Be sure to have specific animal information available and you pricing ready to show. Always have a contract written up for them to look at and the animal files for them to see. I like to offer educational contacts and vet phone numbers for those who are interested. Let them know they are not alone and there are people willing to help.
Education is key! I firmly believe in educating people about all aspects of the alpaca adventure! Having references to others in the alpaca business is comforting for new owners and can ensure their endeavors to succeed in the business no matter what their goals are in the beginning to what they become later. That is why we offer the free skirting class. This class offers so much information on the fiber aspects of the business that we refer new or prospective alpaca owners to this class, whether it’s your customer or ours. Good information goes a long way! Other people may have different interests like breeding alpacas or alpaca therapy so be sure that whatever goals they or you have in mind that they know they can have a good contact to call!