A few of White Flower Farm's customers are lucky enough to visit the northwestern Connecticut farm store in person. There, they can pick out annuals in show-stopping purples and pinks, drool over the dahlia and begonia blooms, and seek inspiration for their own yards among the acres of display gardens and border plantings.
Now that it's springtime, people across the United States are planting everything from coneflowers to peonies, and turning to White Flower Farm's catalog and website. The farm relies on UPS to make sure those delicate shipments arrive on time and in top condition.
"We've worked with UPS for almost 31 years, and other than three or four years, the company has been our carrier," says Lorraine Calder, president of White Flower Farm. "When we've tried to switch carriers based on price, service or claims, we've been disappointed and we've always come back. UPS has the best service – bar none – for what our business does."
White Flower Farm counts on UPS not only to handle the flowers and plants with care but also to help manage the company's year-to-year growth and seasonal business needs.
Peaks and valleys
White Flower Farm sends out thousands of shipments annually, and its business fluctuates with the seasons. Along with the holidays, business picks up in the spring and early summer, when customers' enthusiasm for gardening blooms along with the crocuses and daffodils. And in fall, sales of bulbs skyrocket as people anticipate the upcoming growing season.
"UPS accommodates our very seasonal business," says Calder. "They are willing to go from zero to 120 [miles per hour] and back to zero again with us," Calder says.
To manage the influx of gift certificate orders for the holidays and growing seasons, White Flower Farm has begun using UPS Mail Innovations® to get those certificates to their customers quickly, reliably and inexpensively. While it's a new program for them, "by using it we should be able to save some money. The initial read is good," Calder says.
White Flower Farm also saves time by having one UPS driver pick up the ground, air and international shipments. Interacting with one driver may save just a few minutes daily, but those minutes add up to an estimated savings of $1,200 annually.
Many of White Flower Farm's orders ship from its Connecticut headquarters, and they also partner with farmers nationwide who specialize in products not typically grown in New England.
"We have a great fresh fruit line and plants from greenhouses in Florida and California," Calder says. "UPS gives us the tools to work with those drop-shippers." The shippers can use WorldShip® using White Flower Farm's account numbers for their shipments.
With UPS electronic billing, Nancy Roman, White Flower Farm's controller, can easily analyze the charges. "E-billing gives me control over what drop shippers are doing," she says. Roman can check to make sure their shipping costs are allocated properly.
UPS Account Manager Paul DiMauro estimates that using electronic billing saves White Flower Farm $6,720 annually in man-hours compared with reconciling a paper bill.
"Even in the busy season when we have thousands of packages, [meaning] over 20,000 lines, I can see everything quickly by shipper number or by ground vs. air," says Roman. "I have a two-page bill to pay. I can't imagine doing it any other way."