How to Recruit New Member Owners

Why recruit new member owners to Terre Foods? Without at least 600 members we cannot take the next step to opening the store. It’s that simple. It’s imperative. It’s must-do. And why not do it now?

The absolute BEST way to get new member owners is for our current member owners to recruit their family, neighbors, friends and co-workers to join!

How To Recruit New Member Owners to Terre Foods:

 

  • Come to a training!  You’ll learn more information, have questions answered and learn how to respond to objections. March 28, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1875 S. Fruitridge Ave., Terre Haute
  • Wear the buttons. They serve as great conversation starters!
  • Know your stuff.  Read information about Terre Foods and find an FAQ about the coop included in this toolkit or on the web at www.terrefoods.coop
  • Know the payment options. Remind them that it’s a one-time equity payment. No annual fees. We will likely invite them to make a member loan to provide necessary capital for the project but it’s optional.
  • Stock up on Membership Brochures and “Membership has Benefits!” discount info cards. Send email to info@terrefoods.org to request as many as you need!
  • Know your audience! Spend your energy talking to people who you think would be interested:
    • Foodies
    • Natural food/product people
    • New families, especially those with very young children
    • “Buy local!” supporters
    • Gardeners/farmers
    • Those worried about their health
    • Retirees and the elderly
  • Know that it will take multiple “asks” before they sign: A standard rule of thumb is to ask 6 times in 6 ways. So start now. In addition to your efforts, Terre Foods has an advertising awareness campaign going on now through April 30 to help bolster your message!
  • Use email. Tell your story about what prompted you to become an owner.
  • Use social media. “Like” Terre Foods on Facebook and follow us on Twitter then share our posts with your friends.
  • Have a party, invite a board member to come and informally talk to your guests about the coop. We love parties! Email to info@terrefoods.org
  • Work the Farmer’s Market. Help staff our table, Saturdays beginning in May. Contact Holly Hudson at hhudson40@gmail.com.
  • Invite friends to road trip. If you’re headed to Bloomington or Paoli, take a friend or family member along and stop at Bloomingfoods (3 locations www.bloomingfoods.coop) or Lost River Market and Deli in Paoli (www.lostrivercoop.com) and show them what it’s all about!

 

Don’t forget: For every member you recruit, you receive a $20 gift card to Terre Foods!

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Cooking Skills and Food Insecurity

I’ve been excited to garden in my space this summer at the ISU Community Garden despite the extreme drought and hot, hot, hot conditions. The amount of produce has been greatly diminished in these conditions but has given us a bounty to enjoy. It is a challenge to work with that bounty, both to prepare and to preserve. It takes time and skills, some of which I’ve had to learn like canning. My mom canned amazing amounts of food every year but I wasn’t “present” enough in the process to fully remember it so the internet was my guide. And now I have lovely marinara and salsa lined up on shelves in my basement ready to provide that boost of summer when the cold winter winds blow.

My sister lives on a farm in southern Clay County and grew zucchini from the plants I started from seed. She doesn’t have a lot of experience with zucchini, however, and soon had fruits the size of baseball bats and no clue what to do with them. So I offered to take them to the Catholic Charities Foodbank and did. Some 45 pounds of zucchini. And some time later, I had a discussion with folks involved in the food distribution to the poor who lamented that fresh produce is often not the first choice when clients are selecting food from their shelves and often goes to waste. Seems a big problem is the lack of food preparation skills among many folks. I certainly understand that. Time, convenience, and the fact that the cheapest foods are generally prepared or fast foods has created a whole generation of folks who just don’t know what to do with a zucchini. Or a green bean. Or 4 pounds of tomatoes.

Then came news of a couple of soup kitchens in the area closing due to a lack of staff and/or volunteers.

And then I learned that people receiving Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) sometimes have a difficult time finding suitable work to fulfill the work requirement to receive aid and I thought: is there a way to connect these dots? What if we could have knowledgeable cooks in our soup kitchens teaching TANF recipients how to cook using produce from our food banks and giving gardens to feed the needy in soup kitchens? Hmmm. I’d be delighted to talk with anyone who has thoughts on this.

Why is this important to Terre Foods? Well, having a community who knows how to prepare and preserve nature’s bounty is essential to its long-term survival and the ability of the local food economy to grow and prosper. Let’s get reconnected to our food!

Why Consultants?

Recently, as a part of our efforts to raise membership, we received a comment from a current member-owner questioning our use of consultants.  The owner wondered why we use these consultants, and if maybe we could have opened the store by now if we hadn’t used this money on consultants.  These are fair concerns, and they show that those of us in leadership need to give you a better picture of the project we’re engaged in, and how consultants might fit into that picture.

The first thing that needs to be understood is the scale of the project we are engaged in.  According to our current pro forma startup budget (that is, our current “best educated guess”), this project will ring in at somewhere between $1.6 million – $2 million.  Included in this budget is $78,000 for “fees”, which include consultants and other legal fees.  To date, we’ve only spent a small fraction of this line item.  So it’s important to understand that the money we’ve spent on consultants has been a very tiny fraction of what the overall startup costs will be.  Even if we tried to scale back the store massively (and we have several versions of smaller stores–although it rarely cuts the overall costs by much), even if we’d never spent a penny on a consultant, we would still have nowhere near enough money to open any store at all.

The second thing to consider is how consultants benefit the co-op.  As everyone knows, the startup process for this store is volunteer-led, and we are grateful for any and all help we receive.  But as many people probably know, a volunteer workforce does not always (in fact, it usually doesn’t) include certain specific sorts of expertise that an enterprise like starting a grocery store requires.  We are well up to the task of things like organizing membership drives, or planning Blueberry Festivals.  But when it comes to doing detailed feasibility studies, creating accurate and honest pro forma budgets, or designing a store layout plan, these are things to which we turn to experts for help.  At the point our startup is now, we could not hire these people as staff, nor would we want to.   Hiring consultants allows us the ability to gain critical expertise in important areas, such as budgeting, without having to start hiring on staff that we cannot afford.  It is thanks to the work of consultants that we have an extensive and detailed market study, which included the baseline numbers from which our pro forma budget was created.  Much of the work that Terre Foods has done to date has been greatly improved with the assistance of consultants, and thanks to the higher quality of this work, it is taken more seriously by banks and other business.

I hope that this helps everyone understand better what is going on when we hire consultants.  We welcome dialog about this!  If you have questions or comments, please let us know below.