Each year, growers are faced with the decision of when to place their orders for the upcoming spring production season. Unfortunately, for numerous reasons, these orders are often placed quite late, which can result in a number of unintended challenges.
At Four Star Greenhouse, we are both a young plant and finished product supplier, so we struggle with this issue both from a supplier’s and grower’s perspective. As a grower, timeliness in production planning, as well as early ordering, helps us maintain a smooth transition between growing seasons. But when is the most cost effective, efficient and accurate time to order? And why are so many orders placed late?
Why You Might Be Waiting
One situation growers often face is a delay in receiving orders from their established customer base. With the ever-changing retail environment, accuracy in inventory management and sell-through is critical for future success. However, undue delays in order placement caused by retailers or through a grower’s own procrastination can increase costs, as well as stress levels. In many cases, this situation also leads to supplier shortages or unwanted substitutions.
So honestly, why do so many orders get entered late each year? Ordering season normally begins at or immediately after OFA Short Course. By mid-July or early August, both retailers and growers should have time to review the past spring while the season is still fresh in their minds. We try to follow this schedule and strive to have our finished plans completed and plants booked by September 1st. Hard goods orders are placed shortly after, if not before.
The bulk of poinsettias are planted by early August and spring hard goods shows for retailers are winding down by late August. So again, why the delay? The recurring response normally given is, “I’m waiting to hear from my last one or two customers.” A fitting quote that addresses this situation is, “The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.”
Make Plans And Order Early
Growers can realize certain advantages by placing spring production orders by mid-fall. Most products, including rooted and unrooted cuttings, soil and containers, are offered under various Early Order Discount (EOD) programs. In these days of shrinking margins, why ignore a “gift” of 1 to 5 percent?
Many products, such as custom containers or offshore manufactured items, require an ordering lead time of six to eight weeks or more. Nothing is more stressful or embarrassing than receiving cuttings with no containers to plant them in.
In many cases, a cutting supplier’s final opportunity to adjust production possibilities is mid-October to November 1. Many EODs are wisely based on these dates and are done so to supply accurate order fulfillment. Orders placed after such dates are subject to projected availability and risk the possibility of unwanted substitutions or unfulfilled orders.
Growers’ Ordering Delays Cause Problems For Others
Suppliers, broker salesmen, growers and retailers need to better understand and respect each other’s needs and timelines. Each should uphold their individual responsibilities to best ensure the success of the entire group. Flexibility is a segment of good customer service, but constantly asking others to take unnecessary risks merely sets up the group for long-term failure.
Don’t be an 11th-hour procrastinator. Reap the benefits of timely planning and enjoy a good night’s sleep.