Jeff Greenwood from Growing with Greenwood is passionate about helping farmers make their agritourism events as efficient as possible. Specifically, Greenwood focuses on improving the layout of the farm/event to make it run as smoothly and effortlessly as it can.

At the recent NAFDMA Convention in Boston, Greenwood broke down the purpose of farm layout to the who, what, when, where and why.

Who benefits from a well-designed event? Everyone! Customers will feel more engaged and less stressed in their experience. Visitors to the farm will have a more enjoyable time, be willing to spend more time and possibly spend more money while they’re there – and consider coming back another time. If time at your event is complicated, that creates a stressful, and therefore negative, experience.

Employees will also have an easier time running the event, as they’ll have to spend less time directing people to places or fixing problems that arise. At the end of the day, “your employees are the forefront of your business,” Greenwood said. Help employees have a better time running the event, so they can help the customers have a better time attending the event.

Finally, the owner benefits because improving your customers’ experiences increases the revenue of the event.

What should make you want to review your farm layout? This decision could be driven by goals of production, such as finding space to add new attractions or food offerings, improving a stagnant or unused area or increasing the revenue of your events.

Additionally, getting customer feedback, whether it be a written evaluation or judging the customers’ behavior at the event, will guide you to your priority areas. To put it simply, Greenwood said, “If your customers continue to ask where your concessions are … that’s not your customers’ fault.”

Farm layout: Do everything with a purpose

Jeff Greenwood used the 5 Ws to explain the importance of farm layout for agritourism events. Photo by Kelsi Devolve

When should you analyze and adjust your farm layout? The short answer is always.

There should be a focus on improving your layout and efficiency both in-season and off-season, because “when you don’t make time for it, you’re only hurting yourself and your customer,” Greenwood said.

When in-season, take photos and notes when you notice something that should be improved in the near future. If the adjustment can be made immediately, do it when you notice it.

During the off-season, review those photos and notes and develop a plan with purpose and execute in a timely manner.

Where on your farm should you focus on improving? Everywhere, because “minor changes can have major impacts,” according to Greenwood.

Everything on your farm, small or large, should have a purpose for why it’s there, and not just because “that’s where it fits.” When designing your layout, remember that you have total control of where your customers go on your property. Use barriers to guide visitors through everything you have to offer, and try to make it flow effortlessly so they know they’re seeing everything they paid for. If there’s anything you don’t want your customers seeing, make sure it’s covered up nicely.

One area that is often overlooked is the parking on your farm, even though parking is the first and last impression a customer has of your event.

Why fix your farm layout? Besides increasing efficiency, revenue and customer experience, it also helps to improve safety and the visual impact of the event. A lot of agritourism events still have hayrides going through high-traffic areas, which may help catch customers’ attention to the attraction, but it creates safety hazards and stressful experience to the attendees walking in the way. Instead, give the hay ride its own secluded area away from the rest of the attractions but still visible for the rest of the attendees to notice.

At the end of the day, your priorities should be to make the best experience for your customers, your employees and then yourself, the farm owner.

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by Kelsi Devolve