The PoweringON team take a stroll with Brad Harding on his farm in Omanawa to talk about his business journey and how integrating technology has helped sow and grow Six Toed Fox Organics, as well as facilitate their online fruit and vegetable box deliveries.
The business started in 2016 producing organic produce for local communities, organic stores and farmers’ markets, with a strong focus on ethics and sustainability. The business became increasingly popular throughout the Bay of Plenty and wider north island, and in spite of his own disinterest in technology, Brad recognised it was key to making his processes more efficient.
“I had never turned on a computer until I met my wife Rachel!”
He also recognised the value of playing to your own strengths: “You have to seek the right help with the right skills to support your business. Our Distribution Manager, who’s skilled in IT, takes care of the technical side of the business.” Brad explains that this allows him to stick to what he does best and enables Six Toed Fox Organics to keep on growing.
Crossing the great divide: digital tools that helped Six Toed Fox Organics grow
Customer ordering and delivering the goods
Weekly fruit and vegetable box deliveries are a core element of Six Toed Fox’s business. It was important they had a reliable online platform for managing orders so Brad partnered with Rocketspark to develop and support their e-commerce website.
“We see the opportunity of using technology. My advice would be don’t be afraid of asking for help.”
Brad initially used courier companies for their food box deliveries, but made the decision to move this in-house with the help of the RoadWarrior Route Planner. RoadWarrior allows users to easily organise and track deliveries while planning the most efficient routes.
“It’s been so much easier now we have a dedicated driver doing the deliveries,” explains Brad. It has meant that they can complete deliveries for less, keep food fresher, and also minimise the amount of time spent on the roads.
Connecting with suppliers
A big part of Six Toed Fox’s business is working with wholesalers. However, Brad realised they needed to streamline this process. By using Airtable, Brad was able to create a paperless ordering system, which also enabled him to manage and keep tabs on his stock.
“We wanted a tool that was industry specific. We found other appsdidn’t cater for New Zealand and were using lbs instead of kgs,or wouldn’t convert to New Zealand dollars.”
Sharing views and connecting with communities
Social media has been a huge asset to Six Toed Fox Organics. They use both their Facebook and Instagram pages to share a range of information from advertising their food packs to spreading like-minded ideas. They even use their Facebook page to measure customer interest, introducing ‘add-on’ packs in response to customer demand.
Six Toed Fox Organics have also created a regular newsletter through Mailchimp. The newsletter is another way of sharing their ideas and products. Their weekly subscribers get grower stories, information on what’s in season, and previews for the coming week’s vegetable boxes.
The power of both social media and their newsletter means that they can interact with their community in a personal way, showcasing the story behind their business.
Looking to the future: continuing growth
Lockdown hasn’t slowed down the growth of their vegetables, and thankfully they were still able to deliver nourishing produce to homes during this time. In a bid to continue their environmentally-friendly ways, Brad is looking into ways they can continue to grow their crops smarter with automation and monitoring tools.
Kupu tohutohu: Brad’s advice for others
Given Brad’s indifference to technology, he could have been forgiven for avoiding it. But instead, he has embraced it, recognising how it can be used to grow almost every facet of his business. His one major piece of advice for others is don’t be afraid to use technology and if you’re not sure what to do, ask for help and bring in people with the right skills to assist you.
You can find Brad and Six Toed Fox Organics at the Tauranga Farmers Market every Saturday morning. Their products are also available from a range of stockists, or you can order direct from their website.
You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook.
Venture Centre is a charitable organisation that is dedicated to entrepreneurship support. They build the capability, capacity and digital enablement of entrepreneurs in the local region.
The PoweringON programme is a programme delivered by Ventre Centre to help build the digital capability of local small businesses through a digital assessment tool and plan, one-to-one digital navigator session, workshops and connecting local service providers.
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