No matter where you do business, Old Man Winter will soon be knocking on your door. Whether that means a few nights with lows in the 60s or dozens of feet of snow outside your business, learning how you can help customers winterize their farm, pet and ranch (FPR) investment could be the perfect way to ensure sales stay burning all throughout winter.
Hardware Retailing spoke to Linda Clark, owner of Clark’s Ag Center in Turbotville, Pennsylvania, to learn how she helps customers prepare their homes and farms for winter weather and why retailers across the country should make FPR winterizing products a priority for their own businesses.
In addition, Samantha Burns, owner of Runamuk Acres Conservation Farm, a bustling apiary and small farm in New Portland, Maine, gives tips on the products she uses to winterize her property against freezing temperatures.
1. Connect to your community.
For Clark, answering customers’ FPR questions is critical. She connects customers with local organizations to be sure they have the information they need to safely winterize FPR operations.
2. Scope out winter FPR options.
Offer different FPR products as winter approaches. Scope out your wholesaler’s markets to learn about new items that can help animals, pets and even farmers brave the winter chill.
3. Tailor it to the animals.
Burns says each animal requires its own care plan as temperatures drop. Field a survey of your customers to learn what they’ll need from your operation season after season.
4. Understand the FPR bond.
Clark says retailers must understand how much customers care for their pets. “There’s more of an emotional connection to the animals for hobby farmers,” she says.
5. Plastic tarps are crucial.
At Runamuk Acres, Burns says she is always finding new ways to use tarps to safeguard her sheep, bees and chickens. “Tarps are so versatile, you can use them for whatever you need,” she says.
6. Heat lamps can be lifesavers.
Burns says heat lamps play an important role in helping farm animals survive the winter. From preventing ice to keeping chicks perky and plucky, heat lamps can be a lifesaver for animals.
7. Heated water bowls protect animals.
For some retailers, Burns says, heated water bowls can be an easy way to ensure animals’ water supply doesn’t freeze as temperatures drop, keeping them healthy and hydrated.
8. Aluminum trash bins have amazing uses.
Burns says one of the simplest FPR products she chooses are aluminum trash bins that double as livestock feed containers. They keep rodents from nibbling the food and are easily transportable.
9. Straw and mulching are versatile.
Burns says every FPR shopper has a use for straw and mulching, but in winter they can reduce moisture in enclosures and help animals stay warm even as temperatures fall.
10. Organic ice melt wins.
Stocking organic ice melt can be an easy way to net sales from customers who are looking for safe alternatives from harsh chemicals.