You will probably have several different types of customer, for example:
- domestic households
- convenience stores and other retailers
- hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, hostels, caravan sites
- schools, nurseries, crèches, playschools and childminders
- nursing and residential homes
- local businesses, for staff use and canteens
If you decide to operate a retail dairy as well as a milk round your customers will also include passing trade, and you might also supply milk to other roundsmen.
Falling customer numbers
Bear in mind that in some areas milk rounds are suffering from a lack of new customers as their elderly customers pass away. Younger generations are less likely to have milk delivered, although the mid 2010s saw a trend in some big city areas amongst 'millennial hipsters' wanting 'craft milk' and other 'craft' products. Doorstep deliveries increased from 800,000 in 2016 to 1 million in 2018, thought to be driven by growing concern about the impact of plastic packaging on the environment. As the number of customers has fallen the size of a typical round has increased, often with about 300 customers over a range of 100 miles.
Cash or cheque
Your customers may pay you:
- in cash - many people put the milk money on one side ready to make payment on a Saturday
- by cheque - some householders will give you a cheque and your trade customers are likely to do so as well
- in Healthy Start vouchers - if you decide to accept these you will be repaid by the Healthy Start Reimbursement Unit. Payment is made direct to your bank account
- by credit or debit card - if you decide you will accept them. Although this has not been a traditional method of settling the milk bill more and more people like to pay with a card and many milk rounds use a portable credit/debit card terminal
- by bank transfer (BACS) if you supply milk under the Nursery Milk Scheme and the day nursery requests that payment is made directly to you by the Nursery Milk Reimbursement Unit
Some dairies have their own websites which let their customers order online and pay their bill by direct debit.