Do you remember a little ole company from the fall of 2011 named Qwikster? Probably not. But you will most likely remember the story. It was the time when Netflix was going to divide its business into two branches and operate the On-Demand company as Netflix, and the DVD to your door business as Qwikster. Members of Netflix were not too keen on this change and became very vocal about not wanting the change. The result, as we all know by now, is that Qwikster is in a graveyard right now. A reminder that even industry giants can make bad decisions.
So I use that as a preface to what comes next, the mea culpa. Or if you are not into Latin, it looks like me eating humble pie, or sticking my foot in my mouth, or pulling my head out of my…anyway you get the picture. The fact of the matter is I do not like what I have recently set in motion with the delivery fee structure. So I am going to publicly whip myself before we look at the easy solution. So grab a coffee and give me two minutes please.
In my attempt to make every one of our deliveries make perfect financial sense, I lost sight of common sense.
People hate delivery fees. Hate them. Justified or not, getting items delivered to our front doorsteps has transcended being seen as a service and now it is expected. Pizza, sandwiches, dvds, even couches. The list is so long of items that we can get delivered to our doors for free that food from our farm is not excluded from the expectation of free delivery. I get it. I don’t like delivery fees either.
But here is the real meat and potatoes issue that I have seen (and heard) unfold over the last month of these new delivery fees—some groups of folks feel like they are being excluded from our farm table. And honestly, that crushes me. Let me explain a bit here.
The local/regional food movement gets accused all the time of being “Yuppie food” or food for the few. I cannot stand that label of our food and we fight like heck to make our food affordable and available to everyone.
Looking at our resume, we have done an amazing job of getting fresh, local/regional foods into areas where no other store or company dare go. Rural towns, senior communities, and student dorms to name a few. These are not places where you expect to see healthy foods, but our delivery trucks are there. Unfortunately, these are also the areas that are most sensitive to price increases and I do not want to see that support and desire to eat well go away.
Hearing from people that this new fee structure just won’t work for them, we have listened. It made me realize that we need to change the scope of the discussion and make it broader than the financial viability of 1 single delivery. We need to look at it as the viability of routes, and of days, and of weeks, and of the whole enchilada. Having full vans out delivering is more cost effective (and environmentally friendly) than a van with fewer high dollar orders on it.
Searching for solutions, I dove back into the history of our home delivery and looked for when we had the most support for our farm. Not so coincidentally, do you know when that was?? Yup, when we had no delivery fees. Sure the average order was smaller at that time, but the delivery vans were more full and so it made up for the smaller average order. At the end of the day too, more people were eating healthy foods grown close to their kitchen. That, amigos, is what we are going to get back to and not hold onto a myopic focus staring at a single delivery stop.
So beginning now, January 22nd, we are going to run delivery fees through the wood-chipper like the guy from Fargo. They’re gone. Additionally, we are lowering the minimum for orders from $30 down to $25. Finally, we are adding a 4th Harvest Box size, the “Mini” for $25.
I apologize for these changes, but sometimes we need to fall on our face in order to see the clearest path. My nose, hands and knees are all scabbed up from this fall, but it has shown me where we need to be. And that is making as much room as possible at our farm’s table for everyone to have a seat. So pull up a stool and let’s break some bread, Farmer Monte