The fuel price issue

nicethymeJuly 12, 2006

has changed the way I can do business. My truck - no biggie, gotta get to jobs. So I can suck it up.

The issue is my profitability has been badly affected by the growers all raising their minimum orders for deliveries. I understand they have too, but I'm small potatoes in the buying arena and I have not brought one single truck to my yard this season! Notta. Looking over our sales numbers - we're not significantly off from past years. But I'm forced to include a middle man now, buying discounted retail and since I can't go too much higher than their retail prices without looking the cad, I can't use my old formulas...

Do my own trucking you say? BTDT once in a while it behooves me to take a day off and make a 12 hour road trip for 3 nursuries. Lose a day of pay, fall a day behind. Spend a ton in gas, so I can get my double + 30%. Or take 1/2 day, fight traffic of the city (where the retailers are) pull my own plants, risk not getting what I needed.and get what? 30% at best!

I used to struggle to put together 1000.00 order juggling several jobs together and even worse, put my own dough on the line to prebuy (which I hate to do) and still adding one or two trees for my own yard to make the minimum to get a truck.

and ya know what, I really think the growers like not dealing with us little termites? They're happier shipping big orders to the retailers and large commercial ops - less headache I'm sure. But dang it, this sucks for me. Less variety, quality is hit or miss... ARGH

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miss_rumphius_rules(z6 NJ)

There are a couple of things you can do. All of which I've done!

--I order things I know I use all the time early in the season in bulk. I don't loose much and by the end of the season I have very little left. I order them from a wholesaler two states. My yard looks very lush for about 2 months.
--Send out feelers to other designers in the same situation--order together. Just make sure you get payment issues out of the way up front.
--Justify greater mark-up for your plants due to the following reasons: you took your time to hand pick each plant, you went to the nursery to pick it up, you provided the delivery. You should still be able to double your price for the service aspect of providing the plant. When I've had a client get churly over that type of pricing I've explained it to them and they have no problem with it--in fact they thank me for the service.
--Send in orders and hire a driver for the day at an hourly rate that will be much less expensive than yours! Even if you rent a cargo van, it will be less expensive.

The nurseries here will gang orders together on a truck coming to the same area.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 7:24AM
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deeproots(8b South Ga)

I converted my work trucks to burn on waste vegetable oil.

at this time I'm getting roughly 90mpg on diesel fuel (in an 8,800lb truck).
I'd get better milage but most runs are local

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 10:10AM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

I have done a couple of the things MRR suggests -- stockpile the plants I use most, and make sure the clients understand markups are for having their designer hand pick and deliver plants for their job. I've never pooled an order with other designers, but that might be a viable option if you are in communication with colleagues and fellow professionals in your area. I may pursue that too.

Thanks, MRR.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 6:39PM
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