Alright guys, it's nearing March! I have literally counted down the days, and we're so close to being where we want to be.
I wanted to touch base with everyone in a more overarching way again today. Living products are tricky, they're always evolving.
When we send out a package you have a package insert -- two copies of that gets printed on every outgoing order. One goes in your package and I keep a copy with my handwritten notes. That second one gets put in a file folder in our office so I have something to reference back to with my own notes. I have sent out emails to everyone that I had follow up notes for. So, I have tried to touch base with everybody this month.
That said, for every email I send out there's usually an email that comes back, and in the case of my community it's typically a beautiful email response in return. You guys are allowing me room to grow, make mistakes and learn from them -- the heart of this community is just such a beautiful thing that never ceases to amaze me. I feel incredibly lucky. I want you to know that I have not yet been able to send follow-up responses to your replies just yet, but I will again this weekend. I promise. Communication this month has been a full time job, so please be patient with me.
If you are waiting on something from me and need a timely response by all means please email me again.
Today we are hosting a Lunch Break. This is not our grand coming back on the scene moment either. I want to do that right and make sure we have the changes in place that need to be there before we start the live uploads again. We're doing the Lunch Break today because we are placing an order with our Hwaga farm tomorrow and I want to make sure that if any of you out there have any of these plants on your wishlist they get confirmed with that order tomorrow.
If you have patiently waited for your Hwaga presale I have emailed you with details around what happened there. About 90 percent of you responded, which has been great. You were given the opportunity to cancel or keep your order open. Today is the last day to let me know if you would like to cancel. Tomorrow I will process any lingering cancellations and tomorrow I will confirm the open orders with Hwaga.
These Hwaga plants were our very first attempt at ordering directly from the farm. We generally work with an absolutely wonderful partner on the ground in Korea that picks our plants up, inspects them for quality (with an unbiased eye) and then packages them just the way we want. He's really good at his job and is someone we feel is absolutely a crucial member of our team.
The only problem with that is he can only package so much in a given week too and we were experiencing frequent sellouts on our live uploads. We needed a solution in place where some plants would always be available for purchase. So we have decided to partner with a few hand-picked farms directly. We're still sorting out which farms we want to partner with, but Hwaga is definitely on our list because of their exclusive hybrids.
When working direct with the farm you working one business to another and you are subject to that farm's lead times, which is something I didn't quite understand before. When you work with a partner, the way we have traditionally operated, presale times are generally only a few days before shipping and are predictable as there are no lead times.
We want to designate a these farms separately so you can have a clear understanding of presale shipping times for the future. Every presale we offer will fall into our standard presale times of three weeks. We have made some changes and our goal for the future is ten days from the date of order to the date of shipping to you, but we ask that you give us three weeks. This applies to every presale plant except for the plants that are listed in the new category we're calling 'Direct from the Farm.' This category will almost always have plants available, but there can be longer than normal lead times for these plants. You can find that category here and you can read more about how we order and the associated lead times here.
Next order of business, we have been posting to the blog every Saturday. Almost every Saturday night in 2018 I spent my evenings with you all. You're a part of my routine, my heart, and I dearly appreciate each and every one of you. I miss my routine with you guys and I have kept Saturday nights as a time where I try to catch up with you all about the changes we're making, share insights on care as I see them, or give website updates. The last blog post was really important. We have made some policy changes that will be in effect starting March 15th. Please make sure you have had a chance to review the new Help tab and take a look at the Policies and Practices area, if you look at nothing else. We have also added a text keyword to get notifications on blog updates. If you would like to be texted when blog updates go live text CCFBLOG to 555-888
The next point I want to address is our anticipated coming back live scheduling plans. We hit a growth spurt in October. We felt we had everything in place to make Black Friday a roaring success. We had planned it for months. We're a small business, you can have the best of intentions and the best of preparations and still have hardship, especially with a living product. The question in my mind is how you deal with those.
The way I dealt with ours was overdue, and I sincerely apologize about that. That is not my philosophy and most of you have been with me long enough to know that. I came back into the office with a mountain of the paperwork I was describing at the beginning of this blog post, unforeseen delays with the Hwaga plants and then my inbox literally had thousands of emails to address. I still haven't hit the bottom there and I'm still working through that daily. There have been a lot of sleepless nights this month that I have stayed awake sending emails until the wee hours of the morning. I promise I did my best to address you all, but if I have missed you just shoot me another one. And I have not had a chance yet to address our Instagram, it's my next stop, but I want to get the inbox addressed first.
I want to make sure the issues we experienced do not happen again. I don't think my heart can handle another mistake of that magnitude and I want to make sure we learn from our weaknesses and put better practices into place around those areas. If you fall down, pick yourself up… I just want to make sure we're stronger this time around. I wear my heart on my sleeve and these mistakes are hard for me. I never want to let anyone down.
There are going to be some changes made internally to how we operate, we're not quite ready to go at volume again until we have the proper machinery in place and know how to use it. Specifically, we want to get rid of that cute little masking tape on the top of the boxes and replace it with UV resistant and waterproof ID tags for your plants. These will not be handwritten tags, we have purchased equipment to make these in house and we're still learning how to use it.
This machine will give us a chance to stage the shipping area before listings, the plants will be resting on our holding racks with their ID tags already made, so shipping will be as simple as a last inspection, wrapping and boxing. Before we were literally printing that tape on demand, fighting junked up scissors to cut it and then trying to position it on your boxes without smearing the ink. It sounds relatively painless in my words here, but in practice it was a nightmare and really slowed the whole packaging part down significantly.
And this is just one example of internal changes we're making, it's the easiest one I know how to explain unless I were to just give you the tour of how we do things from a fulfillment side. We're also reorganizing our stock racks and doing some things that will make pulling the orders faster.
I'm also doing extremely past due website changes. I want these in place before I get bogged back down in day-to-day operations of running the business at near capacity again. We want physical, reloadable gift cards and a simple way to check their balances. We want archives of past products sold. And we want new and exciting retail products. When you're a small staff this type of stuff can be hard to stay on top of, so I'm asking that you give me another few weeks to get ahead of some of these things. You probably won't see the fruits of my labor in this department for a few weeks yet, but there are things I'm working on here as well.
So, we're going to come back a little slower than you might like for us to, but when we come back we'll come back better. For the first three weeks of this month if you have a gift card and a wishlist (or open special requests) I am addressing those first before starting our uploads again. That will be my primary focus. So, please let me know what you'd like by sending those requests to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get to work on those.
Our first live upload is scheduled for Make it Mine Monday, March 25th, we will follow our regular schedule from there. I sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding as we make this a better experience for you. We may throw a few in Randoms before then, we may not, no promises… but if we sneak anything in it will be there or on the Lunch Breaks before. I want to work the special requests first and for us to get a feel for the new equipment.
I feel blessed to be working with and for such an amazing group of people. You guys mean so much to me, as does the little business I run. I cannot thank you enough for letting me do it. I can't wait to see you guys back soon. I've been singing 'Time' by Hootie and the Blowfish every single day. I am counting down the days, guys.