My Brother-in-law’s family has owned this farm in Clinton, New York for generations.
Several years ago, one generation officially handed it down to the next and after figuring out exactly how that should work and who wanted to be involved, my Brother-in-law and his 2 brothers took over primary responsibility of the property.
They decided that they wanted to keep the property in the family, and be able to visit it and use it as a retreat for family get-togethers. But they wouldn’t be able to use it all too often, so why not let others use it for the same purpose? Why not allow people to rent out one of the farm properties for reunions, weddings or College-related activities (Hamilton and Colgate colleges are nearby) like Parents’ weekends or Graduations.
Years ago this would have been a complicated matter unless one of them was willing to give up their day job. But in today’s information age, they’re able to make it work – even with one of the brothers out here in California – all thanks to the web.
They set up a site at HardingFarm.com and started marketing their property. They don’t do a lot of active marketing but rather rely mostly on referrals from the colleges or word of mouth. It would be easy for them to increase their marketing if they wanted to though, using the familiar tools like Google’s Ads, etc, But they get enough business where this hasn’t been necessary.
The site also houses some tools that they can use to manage the scheduling of the property. So that each of the brothers has easy access to the property’s calendar and can see whether the property is rented or not. Add to that online banking with some of the national banks that we see these days and each one of them can access a local branch to manage funds.
What’s most impressive about this is that these guys were able to put together a website completely on their own to manage all of these activities – no outside consultation fees were paid to any company. The web development toos are just that good – and they’re still using technology that’s several years old. Now, you might recognize on their site the lack of a graphic designer, but that’s OK for a sight like this. If anything, it adds to the down-home feel of the farm life that renters are signing up for in renting the property.
There are things that they could do to bring the site up to 2008 standards and they’re considering an overhaul of the site, but the site as is has served them well for the past several years and I’m impressed that they were able to accomplish it on their own.