How to stop giving away costly discounts

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We have been loyal customers of Riverford Organic Farms for many years.

This week, when we were choosing our weekly order, I said to my wife:

‘Do Riverford ever do special offers, like buy one get one free?’

And she answers: ‘No, never’.

I asked further: ‘Doesn’t that put you off at all?’

‘No, not at all, the products are always first class, the backup is really good and I’m really happy’.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of ‘Riverford’ before, but in a nutshell, they are a multi-million food delivery business, that has grown from one man and a second-hand tractor (and a burning passion), delivering 30 veg boxes a week, into the huge nationwide business it is today … delivering 50,000 + boxes a week!

So, I was curious: why don’t they do special offers? Is it an oversight or a deliberate policy?

One short internet search later, and I found the following Facebook post from 2019: which I just share with you in full, as it says it all much better than I could:

How can a bank offer you £150 to open an account; a broadband company offer a rock bottom introductory tariff; a veg box supplier offer your 4th box free; a supermarket £20 off your first delivery?

Answer: by making someone else pay for it, through inflated prices for existing customers, squeezing farmers or paying staff less. ⠀⠀⠀⠀
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This is why you won’t find any Black Friday discounts at Riverford. It might feel like we’re being mean, but the opposite is true: saying no to discount marketing is fairest for everyone, including you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Offers are everywhere, and for a while, we were part of the problem. We dipped our toes into the world of discount marketing, being persuaded that it was the only way to compete.

But we came to our senses, and Riverford founder Guy could bear it no longer, and proposed that we abandon this path of abusing the trust of our most loyal customers.

It turned out that most staff (we weren’t yet co-owners at this time) agreed, so we stopped offering discounts, stopped paying dubious companies to knock on doors, stopped using voucher sites. Instead, we concentrate on growing good veg, looking after our existing customers, and have taken all sales back in-house through our own staff who know our veg and our values. ⠀
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The response from the majority of our customers has been very positive.

It turns out that most people, most of the time, are happy to pay a fair price; what it costs to make something in a competent and efficient manner with due respect for people and the environment, plus a modest profit.

This is the basis upon which Riverford was founded over 30 years ago. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The results wouldn’t satisfy a venture capitalist investor, but we are happy to declare that we don’t offer anything to a new customer that we don’t offer to existing ones. That may sound tame, but in an industry racing to the bottom, it’s a quiet revolution

And my comment below this post?

  • I have only just seen this. This is absolutely fantastic: well done you. This is exactly what I’ve been teaching in ‘Slow Selling’ for years! How great to see someone doing it so well!

Slow Selling is a UK based not for profit organisation for leaders of independent businesses.

It is a methodology to help you slow down, set up systems for long term success, and use these to grow sales and profits through reputation, attraction, recommendation and referral.

Without wasting time, money and stress on unnecessary marketing and promotions.

To find out more, please click here

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