We’re over halfway through 2020 and I’ve noticed several trends rising throughout the horticulture industry. One of the most notable developments is how flower and plant delivery services have transitioned from their traditional status as a nice-to-have differentiator to a now-standard consumer expectation—one that could be, in fact, vital for the survival of a business.
As you consider, implement, or even tweak your delivery service, it’s important to consider how doing so can maximize the profitability of your business and provide better, more marketable customer service. It’s not enough to simply add a delivery service. We want to make sure you can do it profitably and use it as a differentiator.
In a 2019 webinar, veteran floral industry accountant and Floral Management Magazine contributor Paul Goodman, MBA, CPA, PFCI, described the key factors to creating profitable deliveries. During his presentation, he encouraged industry businesses to review past orders and delivery trends. In doing so, you can accurately predict the number of drivers you’ll need, understand delivery-related costs, and simplify the delivery zones in your business area.
As you plan your delivery needs, base it on the tendencies you see. Ask yourself these questions when building out your delivery plan. If you can’t answer these questions, consider speaking with a specialist at Hortica to help you plan. They’ll be able to spot opportunities and make recommendations you might not have considered yet.
Creating a plan to implement a delivery program also requires updating your plans and policies associated with delivery drivers. Here are a few areas to start with:
Once you’ve evaluated past orders, customer needs, the trends you’ve experienced, and updated driver records, it’s time to turn your attention to the focal point of any delivery service—vehicle safety. Every day, your drivers and products face potential hazards. In fact, driving-related jobs are often identified among the most dangerous occupations by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can reduce these risks by establishing a successful vehicle loss control program. If you’re unsure of where to start, we can help show you how to make these elements work for your business.
The Hortica vehicle loss control program consists of helping you establish six key elements:
1. Management leadership and support: Create a culture that prioritizes safe deliveries, starting with your management team and the tone they set each day. This can improve employee engagement and retention, while boosting the appeal of your business as an employer.
2. Driver selection: Whether you’re hiring for a seasonal or permanent driving position, weigh factors ranging from driving tests and accident records to reference checks and their actual interview with your staff.
3. Driver training: Implement a training program that extends beyond an initial one-time training. Hold refreshers and remedial training to help drivers maintain their skills and correct poor driving habits. Reinforcing what matters and what works helps keep your team engaged in safety so you reduce risk and improve performance.
4. Driver supervision: When your team is on the road, it’s hard to monitor their performance or remind them of best practices. Pair each disciplinary action in your program with clear safety incentives. This encourages a more positive culture that focuses on the proactive benefits of safety rather than the consequences associated with habits they can prevent.
5. Vehicle maintenance: Help keep your drivers safe and your costs lower with daily checkups and regular inspections based on mileage and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) recommendations. It’s a best practice, yet it’s one that is often neglected. Create a process and instill accountability to make sure this happens regularly so you can extract the long-term benefits of a well maintenance vehicle or fleet of vehicles.
6. Accident procedures: Even the best drivers and well-maintained vehicles can still experience accidents due to outside factors. Consider equipping each vehicle with a reminder sheet of the necessary steps your drivers should take if an accident occurs. Make sure this is communicated to your team so they understand what to do in the event of an accident. More preparation for drivers provides more peace of mind for you when they’re on the road.
If you implement a delivery program, you can make it as simple as driving from point A to point B. It just requires attention to planning and implementing an efficient program to help you maintain a cost-effective delivery service that works for your business, employees and customers. Driver performance, vehicle safety, and consumer trends all play a key role in your operations.
Incorporating the items above can help you tweak your delivery service and boost profits. As always, we’re here to help.