Provide or demonstrate detailed but simple recipes to encourage customers to choose your product.
Provide or demonstrate detailed but simple recipes to encourage customers to choose your product. Courtesy of Will Holder.

Since starting this business, we’ve found that we are an endangered species – people who cook and eat their own food! At first we took it for granted that people would know how to cook a variety of dishes, and would know the appropriate cut of beef for that dish. It’s not true.

I can’t tell you the number of times that we’ve had a customer call and complain about the toughness of their steak. After a little questioning, it usually turns out that they took a round steak, plunked it under the broiler and turned it into a hockey puck. Then they think our meat is tough. They usually try to tell us that they always cook round steak this way.

I think what really happens is that they go to the market, buy a slab of something red and do the easiest possible thing – broil the crud out of it. We bet that they never have any idea what cut they bought.

We have found that this is even more true for grass-fed beef. You don’t have to apologize for anything, just tell them what to cook with what. Tell people specifically what cuts are good for what kinds of dishes. We even give away a little booklet, the Holder Family’s Favorite Recipes. I thought that the recipes in there are just regular stuff, but people rave about them.

Cooking really comes in handy at farmers markets. Keep in mind that you will have to check the local, county and state regulations to see what they will allow. In one county where I sell and pass out samples at farmers markets, I don’t need any kind of permit at all. In another county, I need a $15 permit. In yet another, it isn’t allowed unless I am preparing the samples in a county-certified mobile kitchen. Make sure you check it out.

Anything you have a hard time moving can be sold at farmers markets – just cook samples and hand out recipe cards for the dish. When we do sampling in supermarkets (again, check regulations), we ask that the manager have pre-made ingredient kits available – people are thrilled to be able to just pick up a packet and go. Similarly, request that store managers stock extra of any ingredient found in your recipe. One day, we made fajitas for sampling. Even though we had asked the store manager to stock extra tortillas, peppers, etc., they sold out within an hour. The store not only lost a lot of sales but also had to contend with dozens of irritated customers.