Pre-register by Aug. 7 for seminars on how to charm your customers with Southern hospitality


SPRING HILL, Tenn. — To help agritourism operators and direct farm marketers provide quality customer service, University of Tennessee Extension’s Center for Profitable Agriculture is teaming with program partners to offer training on Southern style hospitality. The seminars, which will be held in August at various locations throughout the state, will provide customer service training to business owners, managers and front-line employees.
 
“Excellent customer service can help differentiate a business from competitors, attract new customers and build brand loyalty of existing customers,” said Megan Bruch, a marketing specialist with the Center for Profitable Agriculture. “It will keep customers coming back time after time as well as decrease complaints and improve employee effectiveness. It also decreases employee turnover,” she added. “Poor customer service can drive away new or existing customers and encourage the spread of negative word of mouth referrals.”
 
In other words, poor customer service can be a death sentence for a business.
 
The seminars will focus on fundamental hospitality habits that most people know but often forget to follow, says Stacy Tomas, program developer and assistant professor of agritourism at Tennessee Tech University. “These seminars will refresh existing knowledge, provide tips for handling difficult situations and remind participants of the importance of implementing these habits to provide excellent service. Additionally, participants will leave with a notebook of resources and a customer service action plan for their business,” Tomas said.
 
“While these seminars are targeted toward agritourism operators and direct farm marketers, the concepts taught will apply to anyone who deals with customers,” according to Tammy Algood, marketing specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and program instructor. “This seminar will include lots of interactive dialogue and activities. Participants should come ready to share, laugh and have fun while learning!”
 
The seminar will be offered in five locations: Aug. 13 in Kingsport, Aug. 14 in Loudon, Aug. 15 in Manchester, Aug. 20 in Spring Hill and Aug. 21 in Jackson. Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. local time. The workshop will end at 5 p.m., and lunch will be provided.
 
Pre-registration is required by no later than Aug. 7. Space is limited so you are encouraged to register as soon as possible.
 
Tennessee Agritourism Association members receive two free registrations per enterprise, although pre-registration is still required. The registration fee for additional members and non-members is $20 per person. Register online at http://tiny.utk.edu/hospitality or by calling the Center for Profitable Agriculture at 931-486-2777.
 
These workshops fulfill a direct marketing workshop requirement for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program and are made possible through a 2013 Extension Risk Management Education Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Southern Risk Management Education Center. The Tennessee Agritourism Association is also providing support for these workshops. Additional information is available on the center’s website: http://ag.tennessee.edu/cpa or by contacting Megan Bruch at mlbruch@utk.edu or 931-486-2777.
 
The UT Center for Profitable Agriculture is a joint effort of UT Extension and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.

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Contact:
 
Megan L. Bruch, Marketing Specialist, UT Center for Profitable Agriculture, 931-486-2777, mlbruch@utk.edu