The Formula For Calculating Cost Of Goods Sold Is Producing Good Catfish is Important, But Finding Good Buyers is Imperative!

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Producing Good Catfish is Important, But Finding Good Buyers is Imperative!

As I said in my little Farm Support Farm Support blog post, as well as in many of my previous writings, I have gained a unique understanding of the fish farming industry as it is practiced here in Nigeria. I have traveled a lot within Lagos especially, visiting different farms in places like Iyana Ipaja, Egbeda, Ojo, Gbagada, and outside Lagos, recently, in Akute-Ogun State.

During my negotiations with the farm owners, I often ask the same questions about the working methods used, the farm output achieved, the costs incurred etc. My goal is to find out how successful and profitable each person’s career is. Time and time again, I have found that many of these farm owners are focused on doing what they do the same way they have always done it. Little or no effort is made to spend some time THINKING about how to work efficiently – especially to reduce the time, effort, money and labor required to produce – and sell – the same product in the production cycle.

But times are hard. Business is tough. Costs have increased. To continue to make a profit, it has become even more imperative today, for ALL businesses to explore ways to REDUCE operating costs, even as they maintain or INCREASE productivity. That’s why IDEAS – NEW IDEAS – about how to run a business better MUST be asked for regularly, and actively reviewed, with the aim of improving the way we work, so that the business can run better.

But there is something more compelling: SALES. This is the very purpose of the business enterprise, which if NOT actively engaged in can lead to its eventual demise. Until you get PAID for your product or service, you are NOT running a profitable business! And that applies to any business. I had to say this at the risk of stating the obvious, because it seems that many business owners often forget this important fact.

In fact, many people seem to go about their business with more focus on the technical, product related aspects, and sparing little thought to the MARKETING part. However, if you don’t have the right customers and KNOW how to part with MONEY to get your product or service, ALL your expertise, product related know how and skills are empty! Your bank account will be empty!!

This is a message that needs to be hammered into the heads of many Catfish Farm (and other business) owners out there. I have repeatedly met people who seem more interested in hearing my knowledge about how to “incubate” a fish or “strip” eggs, than in listening to my tried and tested ideas, for example, about how to grow daphnia in glass tanks to feed their fry instead of wasting time/searching for work in ponds sewage in different streets, harvesting wild daphnia from – or worse, feeding their catfish fry only with expensive Artemia.

I often wonder if it ever occurs to them that today, almost ANYONE – even the uneducated – can be taught independently to do all aspects of breeding and raising catfish for commercial production. Isn’t it obvious from the level of overflow of seminars, manuals and VCDs teaching this subject in various places (and advertisements from media such as newspapers, etc.)?

The truth is that we have many people involved in catfish production in different ways, at different levels of activity here today. THE PROBLEM however, is that very few, if any, do it following any tested or proven operating system that ensures consistent production of a quality product. What’s even worse, and the most EXPLAINED of this writing, is the TOTAL lack of attention to developing reliable strategies to FIND GOOD buyers for ready-to-sell catfish, whether fingerlings, small or table-sized.

This last point explains why in my conversations with many owners, they usually complain of being frustrated by the very exploitative offers made by market women who will buy their harvested fish. The stories of woe told me, about how these greedy traders use the demand of the farmers to find the “good” fish from the ponds, buy them at very low prices (and later sell at a high profit) the heart of the trade.

Every time I am told about this problem, I have responded by telling farmers to take personal steps to find BETTER buyers, so that such traders NO LONGER FEEL that farmers have no other choice. This is where farmers need to use KEY THINKING skills. The farmer must think of ways to find other people who will want his fish products, and who will be willing to pay what they are worth!

In case you are wondering how a farmer can achieve this, I am giving you some ideas based on my experience and observations.

The size of the table, suitable for selling catfish: The farmer will have to look for beer shops, restaurants and bars, hotels, motels, entertainment venues, event organizers etc. Such buyers can offer lucrative prices, compared to market women. They will actually offer better prices – I say this because I know the prices some of them buy from the farmers they supply.

The challenge is for you, as a farmer, to invest the time and effort necessary to find and approach them with an attractive offer. The resulting relationship will be mutually beneficial: they receive a large amount of quality catfish purchases at LOW prices. You get a reliable, ON-TIME outlet for your catfish at PROFITABLE prices that keep you in business for a long time.

The same thinking will allow you to find better selling points for fingerprints, if you choose to do so.

You would ask yourself questions like: Who else would need or use this catfish product, besides those I already deal with? The answer will lead you to find the most rewarding marketing opportunities for your business.

You see, if you don’t go out and find as many potential buyers for your fish harvest, so that you can always sell whatever you produce, at a profitable price, your business will suffer. I have seen farms that have an attractive production of live catfish, but I don’t know how they get enough customers. And the owners sit down – complaining of lameness!

Often, these owners attend training and learn how to raise fish successfully. But their coaches (assuming they knew!) would have “forgotten” to advise them on how to market their product!! Interested startups will therefore start by assuming that buyers will come down in large enough numbers to drain the ponds, at harvest time. When this doesn’t happen, they are forced to continue spending money on feeding older fish – inevitably increasing their production costs.

My argument is that these farmers should have started looking for – and brought in – potential buyers some months BEFORE the fish were harvested. That way, they could also find customers who want to book fish in advance.

A business that doesn’t sell will DIE. Producing (or selling) good products and services is good, BUT what is MORE important, is the effort you put into finding the right kind of customers for them, who will pay you with profit. In fact, I ask you to never stop being proud of the fact that you know how to make a good product or provide great service. Spend some LAST TIME THINKING about how to find people who WILL PAY YOU WELL for YOUR good product or great service. If you fail to do at least that, you are at risk of financial FAILURE, in that business of yours!

Note that the method I described above is what I have used successfully for years now, to increase sales of my products and services. Based on my experience based understanding, ONE good paying client is better than ten (10) rude and/or abusive ones. It can be used in ANY business, with an equally effective impact. Call me at 234-803-302-1263 if you want to learn more about how you can use this method or strategy to get the BEST paying customers for your business.

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