Three small companies share their game-changing strategies.
Any small business owner who's been around the block will tell you that an important key to success is to focus on what you do best. And to do that, you need to reach out to experts who can handle non-core-business tasks for you. These three successful small businesses did just that and were able to accelerate their growth rapidly.
Reach out to experts who can handle non-core-business tasks for you.
What: Offers wholesale candle and soap-making supplies to those who make and market handmade, natural products. Deborah and Mike Ward turned their Ohio home-based candle-making hobby into a business in 1997.
Problem: A clumsy and manual order-entry and shipping process created backlogs that affected customer satisfaction.
UPS solutions: "WorldShip® immediately shaved five hours off our day," says Deborah. Now the pick-pack-ship process takes about three hours per day, even though volume has jumped as high as 400 to 600 packages per day.
Further support: Nature's Garden asked UPS for help integrating its website and in-house database so customers could order online, calculate shipping costs, get e-mail notices and link to ups.com® for order tracking. "It was a collaboration between our programmer and UPS software gurus," Deborah says.
Results: "With UPS's help, we've automated things so much that over the last three busy seasons, we have not had a single shipping delay. Our customers love that," Deborah says.
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm
What: Sells beekeepers everything they need, from hive bodies, frames and extractors to protective clothing. Started out in a North Carolina log cabin in 1977.
Problem: Demand for beekeeping services suddenly skyrocketed because bees in the wild are dying off. Brushy Mountain faced three-week order backlogs and chaotic order fulfillment. "We didn't have the infrastructure to handle that kind of volume," says Shane Gebauer, general manager. Brushy Mountain has always been a UPS small-package customer and uses UPS to import raw materials from England and India.
Further support: Brushy Mountain reached out to UPS for help with warehouse management. A UPS team spent four days on-site mapping processes and recommending improvements in manifesting.
Results: Design improvements and software integration recommended by UPS cut order backlogs from three weeks to less than one week. The new process saves at least two minutes per order, and daily revenue jumped more than 70 percent.
What: Direct-to-consumer fulfillment services for wineries and wine clubs from warehouses in Napa Valley, Calif., and St. Louis.
Problem: Shipping products to thousands of consumers every month for more than 20 different wineries can be error-prone. Orders must be picked and packed properly and shipped promptly. WineCare Logistics turned to UPS for help in automating the process and making it virtually paperless. "UPS stands out in terms of technology," says co-owner Amit Nischal.
UPS solutions: WineCare Logistics uses WorldShip for fast, efficient shipment processing. UPS's temperature-controlled shipping keeps wine at an optimum 55 degrees Fahrenheit. WineCare Logistics was also the first company in Napa Valley to use UPS carbon neutral shipping and, as part of "going green," uses biodegradable wine trays and packaging materials.
Further support: In addition to streamlining warehouse and fulfillment, UPS techs worked with WineCare Logistics to integrate UPS shipping options into WineCare Logistics' online shopping cart. Now, wineries can log in and use Quantum View Manage® to track shipments to their customers and make any needed changes. "Self-service gives our clients excellent visibility and frees up our time as well," Nischal says. "When customers can do things themselves, you should let them."
Results: Streamlined warehousing, tight inventory control and visibility into the shipping process give WineCare Logistics a competitive edge. So does UPS carbon neutral shipping. "We get a lot of favorable feedback on the UPS carbon-neutral approach, but we didn't go green expecting a financial payoff," Nischal says. "That's part of who we are as a company."