Mulch producers face a dynamic and fluid set of challenges that can make planning and forecasting difficult. You not only need to respond quickly to customer orders, but you also have to contend with weather considerations, the availability of fiber and any equipment issues that inevitably pop up. To put yourself in the best position for success, you need to be able to make swift changes and remain nimble so that you can take advantage of shifts in the market, the weather or any other variable that comes your way. This means organizing your operation to be as agile as possible. Here are five tips on how to increase business agility and some insights on how your colorant supplier can help you achieve that goal.
1. Partner with suppliers that can deliver quickly
If you produce colored mulch, you likely keep enough colorant on hand to meet your expected need. But staying agile is all about expecting the unexpected. So, if you have a large rush order come in, or the weather changes and you’re able to color on a day you weren’t expecting to, you need to know that your supplier can deliver in a pinch. Contract with companies that keep enough colorant in stock to deliver next-day. This will help you capture every opportunity so you keep your customers happy and never miss a chance to grow your business.
2. Optimize your shipping/logistics
Mulch producers have a lot of options when it comes to getting products to their customers. You can buy your own delivery trucks, but that represents a significant investment, not to mention the extra cost of adding drivers to your staff and the increased liability. This approach can also hinder agility, limiting your ability to deliver product if a truck is down for repairs or you have more orders than your fleet can handle. That’s why many mulch producers contract with trucking companies that have the capacity to scale up and adapt as your needs change. At ChromaScape, we’ve organized our operation in much the same way. We go into local markets and find owner-operators that can guarantee delivery lanes so we know all shipments will be there on time, as promised.
3. Improve your forecasting
It’s a lot easier to respond to situations when you can see them coming and plan ahead. That’s why investing time and resources into better forecasting can help you stay agile and improve financial outcomes for your business. Take time to analyze historical data from past seasons to get a better idea of what you’ll need and when so you can optimize your coloring process. Consider the big picture and then drill down into individual customers, factoring in any changes in the market. Your colorant supplier should also be able to help you in this regard. When you partner with an experienced supplier who understands the ins and outs of daily mulch production, they can help you stay ahead of the game by offering guidance and providing insights into the larger trends they see in the market.
4. Keep replacement parts in stock
If being agile means being able to roll with the punches and respond to any situation, then seeing your equipment go down and your operation stop altogether is the exact opposite. This is why to maintain agility, mulch producers should keep wear parts and consumables in stock at all times. As you conduct forecasting, consider how often you need to replace parts and which you use most frequently. If you don’t have a lot of storage space on-site, consider only stocking those most essential to your operation. Your colorant supplier should be able to help with this as well. ChromaScape always stocks common wear parts to help our customers avoid downtime, and we can deliver those parts next-day, on average.
5. Invest in your personnel
Employees who can do more than one thing are not only more valuable, but they also help you to be more agile because they can fill in when people are out sick, give you more flexibility in scheduling and allow you to organize teams most effectively. So, train your employees on multiple aspects of your operation. This may not always be cost-efficient for employees hired seasonally. But showing your core employees that you trust them to take on different kinds of responsibilities can also help improve retention and limit disruption to your operation by reducing turnover.
Improving business agility doesn’t necessarily require any big investments or major changes in your operation. It just takes some more thoughtful planning and partnering with the right suppliers who can meet your needs as those needs change. By taking time to consider how you’ve structured your organization and partnerships, you can become more agile, realize more opportunities and ultimately improve profitability for your business.