Home reared beef and daily picked vegetables are the cornerstones of the Ardross Farm Shop, in the East Neuk of Fife, where the Pollock family are fifth generation farmers. Rob and Fiona Pollock with their daughters Nikki Storrar, Tara and Claire Pollock manage all aspects of the 1300 acre traditional farming business and complementary farm shop with Nancy Munro providing the all important farm secretary role using KEYPrime accounting software.
In 2004 Rob and Fiona took a close look at their business. They looked at many ideas but decided to try and sell their home grown beef and vegetables direct to the consumer to address rising fuel costs and the power of the supermarkets.
Nikki had finished studying Geography at university and helped out for the first three months with the new farm shop converted from an old cart shed, but nine years later she is still there and a key player on the retail side with Fiona. They have grown the business by listening to customers and using social media for marketing. Tara is a High School Teacher but also helps out at weekends and holidays which is especially appreciated at Christmas.
Claire studied accountancy at Aberdeen and after a time working for an accountant decided that she wanted to farm, she is a natural asset in the office helping with administration and learning with Nancy how to use KEYPrime. Nancy works one day a week, but her workload has increased significantly due to the success of the shop. Claire coming home has allowed Nancy the opportunity to split the work. "Although I studied accountancy at university I still have so much to learn especially in relation to the accounts package," says Claire. "I process all of the purchases and sales invoices and when Nancy is in this allows me to ask any questions and she can double check my work." Claire's favourite feature of the program is the 'copy invoice' button for suppliers and items that she has not come across. Nancy adds: "Finding an invoice using the Daybook facility in KEYPrime is the best thing ever - it lists particular entries page by page, so we can seach swiftly by a name or a number."
"We believe that moving to KEYPrime gives us an opportunity to improve our accounting system. As the shop was expected to be small we didn't make the best use of enterprises or nominals in the beginning. Now each crop has its own enterprise and we have split out the shop from being lumped together as one, 'shop purchases' and 'shop sales', now this includes our commercial kitchen and vegetable department. Tracking and reporting is much quicker and our analysis is better."
The family has invested in the new beef breed of Stabiliser Cattle, going back to basics with this newly certified breed of cattle for the traits of docile temperament, easy calving and hardiness. Claire says: "The cows are extremely docile; they have broken two of Dad's wing mirrors as they prefer to come up for a scratch than run away! We rarely have to intervene with calving as cow and calf are up and suckling in minutes and they calve outside all year round. These qualities all lead to less stress on the people handling them and on the beef - our end product reflects this. We believe healthy food starts with the farm husbandry. The cows are grass fed with ad hoc silage and home grown beans - nothing is bought in so traceability is absolute."
Winning Farm Shop and Deli of the year 2014 was a pinnacle from the early beginnings and a first day turnover of just £23! The farm now produces over 50 varieties of vegetables from pumpkins to parsnips and it is all sold in the shop or used in the production kitchen. The kitchen also adds value to the home grown beef by making over 250 pies each week. Ardross Farm Shop has attracted bloggers and foodies from afar and a recent visit from bloggers The Boys Eat Scotland resulted in a review which said: "If you haven't tried Ardross Farm Shop mince, you haven't lived!"
"Picking an accounts package for the farm can be difficult as so many of the standard accounts packages are not suited to this type of business. However, when we looked into buying KEY Accounts we had no idea the farm shop was on the cards so were just extremely grateful that this package had the scope to do both without much difficulty and I think that this flexibility is a real benefit which has continued with KEYPrime. We integrate our shop EPOS system and the accounts by importing from a separate system file into KEYPrime. I like to keep the two separate so that I can check prior to import and know what I am importing which keeps the accounts secure."