How We Watch the Weather: Knowing When to Ship
The news is buzzing with reports of the “biggest freeze in a generation.” A large part of the country has been shut down due to below zero temperatures. It’s so cold that postal workers won’t even be delivering mail in 10 states. In some areas, stepping outside would mean almost instantaneous frostbite.
Because of these extreme conditions, we thought it would be a good time to tell you how we watch the weather and determine what to ship.
Every day we look for:
- Nightly lows across the country
- Cold fronts and snow storms
- Trends or patterns that may keep us from being able to ship into certain areas of the country
Then we consider our methods of shipment and how they might be affected by the weather patterns. Our three methods of getting plants to the customers are:
- They come and pick them up.
- We deliver on our heated van.
- We ship the plants by FedEx.
Not every option works for every customer. We can only deliver within a certain radius. Customers that live far away are not going to be able to come and pick up the plants themselves. So most customers will have to have their plants delivered through FedEx.
The Shipping Process
When plants are shipped through FedEx, they can end up getting to the customer three different ways:
- A good portion of the boxes go through Memphis.
- Some boxes go through Indianapolis.
- Others boxes just go directly to the end destination on a tractor-trailer truck.
As our orders are printed, our computer tells us which method is used. (Unless FedEx makes a last minute change.)
Sometimes it’s easier to ship from here to somewhere far away than it is to ship locally. That’s because the boxes that have a longer distance to travel will go by airplane.
Then there are times when boxes can’t ship because of the weather that’s happening in the middle of the route. For example, if our local weather is fine and the customer’s weather is fine, but their boxes are going through zero-degree weather in Indianapolis, we will have to hold the order.
So whether we are looking at snow storms or just plain old cold weather, we have to check the beginning, middle, and end of the route.
The last thing we have to factor in is the weather that people are used to getting. Our expectations for the ability to ship to Minnesota in cold weather are different than our expectations for somewhere farther south.
A 20-degree night in Minnesota may just mean we use winter packing. A 20-degree night in Tennessee may mean we hold that order a little longer and wait for it to warm up.
Our Shipping Plan
After looking at all the weather and coming up with a plan, we classify orders in one of three ways:
- Hold the order- the weather is too bad
- Ship using Styrofoam insulated boxes – it’s cold but not super cold
- Ship using regular cardboard boxes- the weather is fine
Every day we are looking at and revising our plan. One Monday we may be hustling to pack and ship to a certain area to beat a cold front. The next week we may be waiting until Wednesday to ship orders to that same area because we are waiting for a cold front to leave.
We understand the importance of getting orders to customers on time and on the week they wanted. You have projections to meet! But it is also important to make sure the plants arrive in good condition.
Often times it is better to delay your shipment by a week until the weather is better than to risk shipping it. If something happens to your plants, replacements are not always readily available. Then you would be in even more of a pickle.
We strive to do our best. And while FedEx doesn’t usually guarantee the arrival of live plants, we do. So if your plants have sustained any cold damage in this weather, make sure to report losses to us right away.