Marti Emch has had a CSA share for most of her adult life. Cooking meals with seasonal produce from nearby farmers is second nature to the Local Meel founder. That’s why, after moving to Nashville from the west coast, she became fixated on the disconnect between locals and their farmers. “Farmer’s markets were being visited,” she says, “but more as a source of entertainment.” And yet Marti knew that a CSA wasn’t for everyone; it’s a commitment that requires a lot of creative energy and time in the kitchen to determine what to do with your fresh ingredients every week. “I figured if I could make things easier for people by giving them supplemental seasonal ingredients and providing recipes then maybe I could help grow the local food community,” she says. And so Local Meel was born. The motto says it all: Bringing the farmer’s market to your front door.
Local Meel was founded in 2014. They launched on Squarespace, which allowed them to create a beautiful website for customers to visit. However, taking orders on Squarespace proved to be a hefty burden, both in terms of time and usability. Implementing Bottle was a game changer. “There’s no way we could manage the number of orders we have without it,” Marti says.
Customers prefer to have options
Local Meel used to charge customers a monthly flat fee, but they’ve since pivoted to appeal to a wider range of consumers. Bottle empowers Marti and her team to provide a number of choices for customers to pick from, based on what makes the most sense for them. Local Meel offers subscriptions for weekly and monthly deliveries, as well as one-time orders. Recurring customers receive automated texts every Wednesday with the weekly menu. If they don’t place their orders then, they’ll receive a reminder text on Thursday, before orders close at 5 PM. A separate, Thursday morning text goes out to customers who prefer to place one-off orders. The text messages have a high conversion rate. “It’s a very effective system,” Marti says.
Real-time revenue reporting
Marti loves that she’s able to introduce all kinds of people to the beauty of cooking with local ingredients from nearby farmers. But she also has to look out for the health of her business. It’s crucial that she keeps her finger on the pulse when it comes to sales and customer satisfaction. Unlike with Squarespace, where she had to create and modify her own reports—often getting sidetracked and frustrated by human error—Bottle allows her to download spreadsheets with ease. “It’s really simple to sort through and figure out what our orders look like, which is then directly tied to what we need to order from local farms,” she explains. Marti can also look through her dashboard for a play-by-play view of her financials. Once orders are closed, she can log in to see the week’s revenue, then analyze ups and downs.
Ultimately, what’s most important to Marti is that she can continue to build up the local food system. She says that now more than ever, Nashville residents are interested in understanding where their food comes from, and are looking for ways to be more connected to the local community of food producers. Local Meel might be going into their seventh year next month, but this is only the beginning.