Insights and updates from the team at LandscapeHub

How freight works with LandscapeHub

Jan 30, 2020 2:30:00 AM / by LandscapeHub posted in Resources, Education

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We’ve discussed the advantages of aggregating shipping through LandscapeHub. But, you might be wondering how does freight with LandscapeHub, overall, work? How does LandscapeHub actually produce those advantages that come from aggregating shipping? Or those advantages that come from using LandscapeHub to handle shipping, period?  

Glad you asked! (Or wondered.)

We have an entire department that handles shipping and helps you get the best price, the best carrier, and the best turnaround possible. Here’s how it works.

Using trustworthy carriers

Our Logistics Manager, Rahan Omar says, “Handling nursery stock is not everyone’s cup of tea. When you call drivers and say ‘I have a load of trees that’s floor loaded,’ some drivers aren’t into it. But that’s why we have Rahan, because he is into it and keeps calling and working his (virtual) rolodex until he finds a carrier that works. “I’ve handled shipping for everything and nursery is a completely different ballgame.”

He has brought his experience to LandscapeHub and put it to work, transitioning LandscapeHub’s shipping operation from a mostly brokered situation to a direct carrier operation much of the time. By focusing on freight full time, Rahan can vet carriers and develop relationships with drivers who are not only knowledgeable, but happy to carefully deliver nursery stock on time and in great shape. “Going direct also allows us to pass cost savings along to customers,” he says. “And, when there is a delay or issue, there are many fewer phone calls to make to quickly get accurate information for the customer.”

Knowing when to call a broker (and which broker to call)

Rahan still uses brokers for LandscapeHub orders on occasion for complicated loads. This allows LandscapeHub to continue offering flexibility in freight that would eat up a lot of time (or even be impossible) for individual buyers. For example, if the LandscapeHub Market Managers and Logistics are trying to build a load that involves pickups in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Columbus, Ohio and dropoffs in Indianapolis, Carmel, and Westfield, Indiana, a well-connected specialty broker is much better positioned to efficiently handle the project and ensure on time delivery at a great price.

That ability and flexibility of LandscapeHub to build multi pickup and multi dropoff loads allows buyers to place much smaller orders without incurring high freight costs, especially if they are operating within a broad timeframe.

Coordinating pickup and delivery capabilities

It’s not enough to just find a truck to carry product. The LandscapeHub Logistics Department also coordinates with Market Managers, suppliers, and buyers to ensure which types of trucks suppliers can accept pickups from and that buyers can accept deliveries from. “Some people only want flatbeds, but there are fewer flatbed drivers with their own quality nursery tarps than there are dry vans (enclosed trucks) or reefers (refrigerated enclosed trucks),” says Rahan. It’s the responsibility of the LandscapeHub team to come up with a solution that works for everyone to get the products from point A to point B in good shape.

Getting the best price, regardless of load size

It’s much easier to coordinate orders that fill an entire truck from one supplier. Those are called “one pick” orders. In that case, Rahan sees an order come in and starts getting rates and seeing what equipment is available for shipping. Then he works with the Market Manager to clear the plan with the supplier and the buyer. “I might say, ‘I have a pickup with a flatbed Tuesday for delivery to the customer Wednesday. Can you accept this equipment for pickup and have the product ready by  8 am?’” He stresses, “There’s no delivery without successful pickup,” including the timing and the truck type. He’s careful never to send a truck that the supplier can’t accommodate.

In the case of a multi-stop pickup and dropoff or a smaller order, he will work to combine orders into one truck so that buyers can split the costs. “We just find out what their timeline is,” he says. “Sometimes, if a buyer needs product from a specific supplier on a short time frame, they’re willing to pay higher freight to get it when and where they need it. Other times, they’ll let us know they can wait and see what other orders come in.”

The same thing happens when there’s a weather delay. “If it’s raining and one supplier can’t dig trees on the customer’s timeline, the Market Manager might try to source from another supplier. It’s then my job to see how the freight compares and if it is worth trying to switch. Again, sometimes we’ll switch suppliers and sometimes we won’t.” Market Managers work closely with LandscapeHub customers to ensure the smoothest delivery possible for both buyers and suppliers.

An extensive network allows for flexible freight options

The short answer to how freight works with LandscapeHub is truly, “Our team takes care of it so you don’t have to.” We have the personnel and network to offer flexible freight options for orders large and small, over distances long and short, without stressing the resources of buyers searching for high quality material.

And that, well, that takes a load off of everyone.

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Your two-page business plan for 2020

Jan 2, 2020 9:30:00 AM / by LandscapeHub posted in Resources, Education

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There are entire books about how to create a business plan.

Let’s face it, though — do any of us really have time to read them? Nope. Especially not when we’re getting ready for winter trade shows and the spring rush.

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to read a business plan book or spend 20 hours writing out a plan in order to enjoy real growth in the direction you want to grow in 2020. All you need to do is spend some time evaluating three areas of your business and jotting notes for your 2020 plan of attack.

We call this the two-page business plan, and, if you actually do it and then stick to it, you’ll see real progress — more progress than if you get stuck trying to create a 20 page plan that you won’t actually use.

You’ll review your:

  • Pricing structure
  • Portfolio
  • Growth goals

Ready? Let’s go.

Pricing Structure Review

LandscapeHub buyers AND suppliers can both benefit from a review of pricing structures. Whether you’re selling services, plants, or hardscape materials, it’s worth spending some time to ensure you’re charging what you need and what the market will bear. It’s possible the answer is “yes, our prices are fine,” but you won’t know unless you ask these questions:

What’s my pricing model? Is it cost plus or value based? Cost plus works the best with large volume but you can leave money on the table with this structure if the market will bear a higher price. (When listing your materials on LandscapeHub, take care not to compete solely on price, and take into consider the different markets where plants are listed.)

Value based pricing is an excellent structure for service business, but you still need to ensure that you’re covering costs and have built in a percentage for profit.

When did I last raise prices and how did I do it? One way to raise prices is to introduce new items or services with a higher price point that render older items and services obsolete.

How has my business changed? Maybe you hired more staff, expanded your market, cut delivery time, changed the types of clients you work for, or improved your offerings, all of which could factor into price changes.

How do I feel when I’m doing certain types of work? This is a more touchy-feely question, and possibly more related to buyers than suppliers, but it’s worth asking. If you notice you’re doing work that you once loved, but is now irritating you, maybe it’s because you need to charge more for the service. For example, if you’re creating landscape designs at $1,500 each, and you find yourself overwhelmed and annoyed, that could be a sign that what you’re producing is worth more in the context of your business and your life, and you need to increase prices.

How’s your workload? Are you overwhelmed? If demand is greater than your supply (of time or product), time to institute an increase!

The end of the year is a natural time to send a new rate card or price increase. It’s also a great time to sell work in advance, giving people a chance to “lock in” 2019 prices if they book and pay part or all of the fee in advance.

Portfolio Review

If you’re a buyer on LandscapeHub, chances are that your portfolio showcases your designs. If you’re a supplier, you still have a portfolio: it’s just more of a catalog or pictures of the plants you sell.

Buyers, ask yourselves: Does my portfolio showcase the services I want to sell? For example, if you’ve pivoted toward container subscriptions but all of your photos are of large landscapes (or vice versa) it’s time for an overhaul. Does my portfolio have current pictures?  Are they colorful, high resolution, bright, inviting? Or are they obviously scans of old printed photos?

Suppliers, ask yourselves: Do your catalog or availability pictures showcase the sizes of plants you want to sell or are there images of sizes you no longer carry?Are the pictures in focus, brightly colored, and crisp? Do you have pictures taken at your location or are they obviously from a different source? (Showing some of your location helps build trust that what you’re selling actually comes from you.)If you only showcase some of the items you sell due to space constraints or costs, are you showcasing your high-value, or high-volume items?

In our industry, pictures do the talking far more than words, so make sure your pictures are working for you. If they’re not, update them.

Review of Growth Goals

Do you ever look around, think about your work, and say to yourself, “How did I get here?” You could be completely happy with the way your business has grown. Or, maybe, you feel like you want to be doing something else.

Whether you’re happy with how your business has evolved or you want to grow in a new direction, taking time to thoughtfully evaluate where you are, how you got there, and where you want to be next year or in five years will let you continue to stay on a personally and financially fulfilling path.

Ask yourself these questions:

For which products and services do I receive the most referrals?

Which products and services that I offer lead to the most repeat business?

Of the first two, which products and services do I most enjoy producing? Which products and services that I enjoy producing have the highest ROI? (You’ll want to shift your sales focus to those — the ones you enjoy that actually make you money.)

Which products and services do I need to stop offering or producing?

Which ones are high input and low reward?

Which ones irritate you (and upping the price won’t help)?

Which ones could be better offered by other providers?

Asking these questions will help you narrow your focus and deliver superior products and services. By focusing, you’ll become the “go to” provider for products and services that make you money and make you happy. Rather than letting your business blow wherever the wind takes you, spend a few minutes charting your course for the year ahead. Then, in 2020, make sure your hand is on the wheel, guiding the ship on your intended path.

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