I was nervously typing the words, “I don’t have any available right now but I can take your contact info and let you know when I do have rabbits available….” I was sweating it out for a few hours thinking they could be upset. Until I finally heard back from someone who submitted a contact form on my free and somewhat janky website.
“Sure, that would be great.” I was giddy with excitement as I put clicked the star next to their name and email that had landed in my Gmail account.
A few weeks later I had another email, then another…
About one year into dealing with my “waiting list” in this manner it came down to the MINUTE that someone’s form submission came in when I had to make the call of who got what…
My brain was frazzled and I felt like I was holding on to two many plates that were about to fall. I had to find a better way that put my mind at ease.
I opened up a word doc editor and did my best to think of all the info I needed to know in order to keep track of everyone and what rabbit they wanted.
What You Need To Ask
At minimum you need their full name and two methods of contact.
I have email as my first choice and phone as my second because it gets a will chaotic through text.
Then think about what info you need to know in order to get them what they want. Also, make sure to have a way to tell the date and time they submitted the form because that is how you will tell who was in line first.
So for example I need to know the following things for rabbit.
- First and last name.
- Email address.
- Mailing address.
- Colors they like best.
- The time they need to have the animal by in case it is a gift or 4H project.
- Was sex they want.
I also ask them where they found me so I can get a feel for what marketing efforts are worth the time and effort.
How A Waiting List Helps Your Farm
You can create a waiting list no matter what you sell. The more detailed and hands-on you have to be will depend on your product and what you need to know about that product.
A waiting list creates a bank of customers waiting for your products. It could be something as simple as an email opt-in form hosted by your email provider. You can read more about the one I use here. (They make BEAUTIFUL emails by the way)
Or for something a little more advanced (but not hard to set up) you can create a form through Typeform and embed it into your site so you can get a little more info about what they are looking for. This is great if you create products with different options. Or you make your product as the orders come in.
An online waiting list keeps you from relying on them.
It keeps you from having rely on THEIR memory to call you back. Life gets busy and they forget. But, when you have their contact information the ball is in your court to make the move and reach out when something available.
With a waiting list in place, you will have a much better idea of who is serious about buying and who is not.
A Waiting List Gives Your Product Scarcity
People want to feel like they are getting access to something exclusive. It gives your livestock, handmade item, or service a next level feeling.
When you create scarcity on something it keeps people from continually pushing it off and not buying. If they have no reason to buy now they won’t. It’s not being sleazy or manipulative to have this in place if it is the truth. You only have so much time to create a product or work with so many people. It is just good business.
When you have an online waiting list that they are able to “save their seat” if you will even if they don’t have to pay to do so. It gives that scarcity to your product by telling them that they might not get your product if they don’t get on the waiting list.
Waiting Lists Keep Your Brain Free and business flowing.
It helps you know how much business you have in reserve. You don’t have to wonder where that next sale is coming from. For example, if you sell livestock you know how many offspring you need to meet your customer’s needs. With that info, you can make a better estimate of how many animals need to be bred.
Related Post: planning your breeding season.
For handmade products you know how many hours of work it takes you to make those items. If you have a lot of people on your list you can decide to stop taking pre-orders till you are able to catch up.
Or you can just inform your customers how far out you are booked.
Having them on your waiting list develops loyalty.
When people know that they are on your waiting list they are far less likely to buy from someone else when they are scrolling the pages of Craigs List or looking in the Facebook sales groups. Does it happen? Sure, but not often.
When someones has a spot on your list they are more respectful of your time and effort.
If my waiting list is long I always leave an out if someone buys from another person I always ask them to tell me because it is better for me to know then to assume they are waiting to buy from me.
Keep people excited and anticipating what is to come.
To keep from losing people, do an occasional check-in with them.
I have had some people on my waiting list for over a year because they wanted something specific. However, if you get big enough eventually you will get to the point where people are happy to get anything from you.
If your waiting list involves animals. Send an email when the breedings are done that they could possibly get a baby from. Then again when the babies are born to keep the anticipation going.
Staying top of mind is the name of the game.
If you are making a product let them know when you have started the project and send a photo so they can see how it is coming along if it is a big project. If you are making a lot of small items like jewelry or candles then use something like your Facebook page or Instagram to keep people as a group updated.
Related post: Finetune your FaceBook Game
It also keeps you from getting in over your head and have more orders then you can deliver.
Tools You Can Use To Set Up Your Waiting List
My favorite to use is Typeform. The main reason is it looks very clean and professional even in the free accounts. But the main reason to use this instead of the forms that come with your site is that you have to click a button first before you can answer the questions. This keeps things like bots and spammers from sending malware through the form and into the back end of your site.
This is what my waiting list Typeform looks like before people click on it to answer the questions.
You can get your free Typeform Account here.
With Typeform you can add up to 10 questions for free in the form. So things like email, name, address, and product-specific questions if you have them.
With the free account, you will get 100 form submissions for free PER MONTH as well. So unless your business is crazy busy with lots of people to help make products this will be totally fine.
Another option is to use google forms. They are another totally free option but I just don’t love how they look.
How keep track of your wait list submissions.
You can do what I did when I first started and hand write them out on a form you type up and print out for yourself.
Or you can use something like trello like I do and organize your list in there shown below.
Waiting lists will do wonders for your business and help you to maintain a steady stream of customers. Be patient and listen to the questions you hear people ask you when they come to pick up a product or talk to you in person. That will tell you where you need to be more informative on your website.