The Market Plan doesn't need to be a lengthy document, perhaps between five and ten pages as a minimum. It should be a 'living-document' and subject to change as and when you think it appropriate. It could also become the basic document for fund raising (e.g. for Local Authority grants) and should contain enough information to get the market going with enough clarity about what you want to achieve and by when, and how, and how it will be funded.
Things to think about:
What are the key objectives of the Market:for example, is it to provide an outlet for local food producers; to bring the local community together; to create an opportunity for the community to buy good quality fresh food at reasonable prices; to provide income for other local projects (e.g. a Village Hall); to supplement the local tourist strategy and for example, etc, is it meant to be run as a not-for-profit operation etc. How will the Market be constituted: It could be set up as a Registered Charity, a Limited Company, a Co-operative or a Community Interest Company etc. There is considerable variety in Kent as to how markets are constituted, but we would suggest that you agree on what works best for you and start off simply, which could be as straightforward as a sub-committee of the Parish Council. We can provide additional advice on this if required.
What are the likely running costs: how much will you spend on advertising, signage, space rental, power, heating, insurance etc. Who provides tables, gazebos or tents, for example, if left to individual stallholders, it will bring a lack of uniformity and presentational quality, though it may add character. Providing stalls yourself adds significantly to start up costs and you will need to arrange to have them put up and down for each market. How you intend to finance the Market: initially will it require some working capital? and in the long term, this could be from fundraising, endowments, Local Authority (and other public body) grants. Your plan will be the ideal vehicle to help you prove how serious you are and how you expect the market to operate How the Market will be operated:what will be the opening times, location, frequency, numbers and types and variety of stallholders, standards for stallholders/producers etc. We would recommend that you set up a separate Bank Account for the market. You will require Application forms, guidance for stallholders etc . Volunteers are going to be needed to help to put out the signs, setting up/taking down the market, cleaning up, collecting the fees, acting as treasurer, assisting with stallholder arbitration and liaison etc. It is imperative to have sufficient volunteers to help throughout the year as the frequency and timing of the market could be defined by the number of volunteers and the time they are willing to offer unless you employ a market manager.
How the Market will be managed: A formal Management Committee should be set up and should meet regularly to oversee market operations, promotional activities etc. A Market Manager should be identified to have responsibility to ensure the market runs successfully. You should consider whether you want to have this as a voluntary role, or a part-time paid market manager as some Kent markets do, and factor that into your income/expenditure calculations. Others may be responsible for liaison with official bodies such as Hygiene, Highways and a Treasurer to look after the financial operation of the market is also recommended.
How to develop the customer base:Why should customers change their present shopping habits and come to the market ? Where will they come from the immediate vicinity or within say, ten miles ? This is dependent to a certain extent on having the right mix of stallholders (e.g. quality meat, bread, vegetables and fish plus other interesting products). Other aspects to consider include whether you anticipate any major difference between the number of customers attracted in summer and winter. One key criteria for successful markets is good parkingfacilities and refreshments near by. A conveniently located cash machine is also very useful. How many stallholders, and what products: Both quality and variety is all important. All markets should have a core of basic suppliers, (e.g. meat, bread, fish and vegetables), augmented by diverse stalls such as preserves, cakes, chocolates, pies, dairy, eggs, etc. Depending on size and demand you could have two of some stalls, e.g. meat, where one stallholder might be specialising in beef and another in game or pork and lamb. Supplementary and seasonal stallholders can also be added on a regular basis, e.g. flowers, ice-cream, hot soups, herbs, plants, ready meals etc. KFMA maintain a database which may help you recruit stallholders.
How many Craft type stalls:we would recommend that to begin with that you try and focus upon food and produce stalls; a useful guide is to consider up to ten-percent of overall capacity could be made available for craft type stalls, which will help maintain the overall character of teh market. However, you may actively plan additional 'guest stalls' to match events, such as Mothers' Day, Christmas etc. You need to be guided by your local circumstances and ambitions for the market, which may change over time.
Setting Standards:You will need to set the standards that you expect stallholders to comply with, together with any checking process that you may wish to put in place and this needs to be communicated with them. These standards should include definitions of 'locally produced', 'fresh', 'direct from the producer' etc. The essence is about how best to build upon the ethos of a sustainable local economy. You may have to accept a pragmatic degree of 'hybrid' stallholders to meet local demand. (Finding fresh lemons in Kent is still not possible, but walnuts and olives are becoming more likely ! )
How much to charge:The fee rates for stallholders vary throughout Kent, ranging from £5 to £30 and are dependent upon the size of the stall, what facilities are provided, the location and capacity of the market, its likely shopper population, its running costs, future prospects and what the stallholder believes is economically viable. We would recommend flat fees, rather than anything related to turnover or percentages etc. Openness and transparency is important and it is not unusual to consider negotiating putting up fees after a reasonable period of time, but this should not come as a surprise to stallholders!
Promoting the market:A good idea could be to set the priorities for the first year and usually relates to three distinct interlocking dimensions, what's being sold, who to, and how are you going to get customers to come to the market:
What are you selling: This is focused around the number and type of stalls and the product range available, and any local comparisons that can be made
The numbers and types of shoppers you think the market can cope with, what catchment areas you expect to get them from, and ideally an estimate of the average disposable income levels in your area.
What media outlets are available and what is the message? This will need to reflect local circumstances and can change over time. Relentless promotion of the market is an ongoing task, and one of your most important areas for attention, not least because of all of the other media targeted at your shoppers on a day-to-day basis, which inevitably you are competing with. Our experience tells us that what seems to work as a form of primary promotion is a combination of well-placed and clear road-signs; advertisements and/or press releases in the local newspapers and free broadsheets; notices in public areas and in local businesses plus brochures, leaflets and business cards. For secondary promotion, amongst other things, a website is useful, but the impact of this can be variable.
A launch event is an excellent way of creating initial interest in a new market. Invite the press (but don't be surprised if they don't turn up!). Take photographs and write a press release to make their life easier, you will have a better chance of getting noticed!
Venue: Research potential sites carefully. Is an indoor/outdoor or both style venue more appropriate? Factors that need to be taken into consideration include weather restrictions, time of year, site access, public transport, number of traders, parking facilities and traffic congestion. Planning Permission: You will need to contact your local Council for advice on whether any additional planning permission will be needed to run the event. Initially write in with details giving as much information as possible with regard to your event. If planning is required an application form will be sent out which then needs to be filled in and submitted for review. You need to allow plenty of time for this before your first market.You may even need planning permission for temporary signage, and it is essential that your Local Authority realise that the signage is of a temporary nature otherwise you may well have to pay a fine to retrieve signs 'taken into custody' Licensing: If you are planning to have any street trading or road closures you will need to apply for license. Additionally, if alcohol is being sold to the public a separate license will be needed. Health and Safety: Your local Council's Environment and Health Services will give advice on health and safety issues to potential stall holders; this should be discussed at an early stage. Food and Safety: The Council's Food and Safety Division will give advice as to stallholder legal requirements. They will visit the Market occasionally to check compliance e.g. labelling of produce, cleanliness etc. Insurance: You need to ensure that each trader has adequate Public Liability insurance (£10million) and that the grounds or building you hold the market in are adequately covered. The Association has negotiated a comprehensive market Insurance policy with the NFU Mutual.
Parking:This is vital. Not only must there be adequate parking but ease of parking together with continuous in/out movement and possible entrance/exit congestion must be taken into account. You may need a full time parking attendant to keep the traffic moving. Electricity:This will be required for refrigeration. All external connections must be approved. Stallholders may bring their own generators so the noise factor is important. Funding & Grants: In order to get the market off the ground you will probably need some working capital, to cover initial expenses that may have to be incurred e.g. stall equipment, advertising boards and advertising in local papers, brochures, hire of venue, telephone, printing etc etc. Stall fee income will eventually come in but you will need to anticipate spending money up front and it may be possible to approach your local Council for a grant to help cover some of these fees. Otherwise we suggest you discuss grants with the Association who may be able to help find some other means of finance.
A more detailed Marketing Plan covering the next two years could also be developed at a convenient time and this will need to build upon current and planned initiatives, for example, this could include:
Undertaking a more detailed analysis of your target marketing areas. This will enable you to plan for an effective and sustainable promotional campaign which in turn will help underpin any growth forecasts. This ought to focus on the socio-demographic make up and income levels of the area, their current shopping habits, and if possible, a comparison with other markets experiences in Kent and national trends.
Questionnaires can be developed to directly and indirectly involve shoppers and potential shoppers at the market to create solid evidence for what works and how things might be improved over time.
In parallel with this, you can also link with existing or planned local initiatives like tourism growth and supporting the local shopping experience.
Additionally, new and special events can be developed, for example, 'specials' like Pancake days, Easter Days, Apple Bobbing, Bonfire Night and Christmas Market activities etc.
Increased direct advertising can also be undertaken, for example, using local radio interviews immediately before the next market to reach a wider audience.
Increased indirect advertising can also be considered to enhance visibility e.g. sponsorship with local business's such as Estate Agents, pub/restaurant chains, etc.
Writing a monthly articles for local magazines describing what is in season, stallholder profiles, recipes.
Increased community engagement through closer working with local groups like the schools and parish and church councils.