Friday, April 29, 2016

Blogs: What do you do when things don't go as you planned?

Over the years I've told many people to be cautious about what they read on blogs because there's a natural tendency not to talk about things that don't got to plan, or the way you'd like.  

The last few weeks have been very busy; the spring piglet sales are in full swing, and I've sold 400 piglets so far, which is a good start, and generally speaking piglet sales are fun.  They're cute, they are popular, people are happy to get them (and I'm secretly happy to send them away!) and it's actually a major source of revenue for the farm.  

But after selling a few hundred I got a call from a customer that one of the piglets she'd purchased from me had died.  A short time later I heard from another customer, and then a third customer.  Eventually I learned that 11 piglets had died.  

On one hand 11 piglets sounds like a big number, but out of 400 it's less than 3%.  But I'd rather not have even 3% of the piglets not work out for the customer, and I do gaurantee my pigs, so to each customer I offered a full refund or a replacement pig, and they all chose replacement pigs.  So I made arrangements and delivered the replacement pigs.  

It's this sort of episode that you'll almost never see talked about on farm blogs, but it's really a defining moment for most businesses - what do you do when things don't go well?  

It's really an opportunity to figure out what you're made of.  If you think about how you'd like to be treated, you're probably like me.  I'd like someone to be honest with me, tell me the truth about what's going on, and make it as right as they can, as quickly as they can.  It's funny, but I've found with a 100% guarantee, even if there is a mishap or problem, like this, people trust me and continue to do business with me.  

I've sent one of the dead pigs off to a swine scientist to see if I can get a diagnosis of what killed it, and I've stopped selling pigs for a while to see if there are any other problems.  I'd much rather handle it here at the farm than have it become a customer problem.  So I'll work through it, but after criticizing other farm blogs for not showing the other side of the story, I thought I'd share this with you guys.  

This is what transparent farming looks like to me.  


Mountain Walker said...

Hey Bruce,
We have a sow who gave birth with a first time litter back in February. Our idea was to just have a couple of our own pigs for 4H instead of having to search and search for piglets in the spring, and sell the surplus. We've had pretty good luck so far. We held back the piglets we wanted for the show ring and sold the rest pretty quickly. However, one of the buyers contacted me yesterday and said that one of the piglets she purchased from us was "growing slowly" and she was "worried about him". They purchased two piglets from us about 14 days ago. So my question to you is how long after you sell a piglet do you guarantee them? When is a buyer responsible for the welfare of their new animals?


ellie k said...

Sorry for you and the people. Glad to see an honest man step up and make it right.

Bruce King said...

Thank you ellie

Bruce King said...

We offer 30 days with a money-back guarantee or a replacement Pig at the customer's discretion. There has been times when customers have had a hypochondriac experience with the pigs; they start looking at some Behavior, some natural behavior of the pig and decide that it's sick when there's really nothing wrong with it.
That's not always the case but it does happen. there is some natural variability in sizes and growth rates and so it's up to me to educate the person but the bottom line with me is that I will take the pig back and give them their money back or swap them pigs to make sure that they're happy no matter what.

I will often the pig and sometimes if there is nothing wrong with the animal i will immediately resell it so I don't have to quarantine it on my farm. Since my primary market is terminal farms for meat pigs there's not.much risk of contagion.

Mountain Walker said...

Thanks for the info. Hopefully the new owner will figure out that the size of the pig is just pig characteristics (his dad was a Red Wattle) and everything is just fine.

Mountain Walker said...

Update: Thanks for your advice, Bruce. I reached out to the piglet buyer and offered her some thoughts on individual piglet growth, foods, etc. and then offered her a replacement if she was still unsatisfied (unfortunately, all we have left as a possible replacement is the runt, but he's growing strong!). I haven't heard back from her though now in over a week and she seemed pleased with the alternatives the last time I spoke with her.

Unknown said...

I remember 4 years ago one of the one I bought from died, stuff happens and you made it right. Wish more people in the world were like us