back to the grind

November 4, 2009 |  Category:   life the biz

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We’ve been both busy working. Alot. Trying to fend off getting sick, but you know the scary thing about being a sole business owner? Who covers for you when you get sick? Luckily, we’ve not had to find out as the whole family rarely ever gets sick, but with Mark the only one baking, we naturally get a little nervous if there’s even a tickle of a sore throat. Remember last year when I was knocked-out-in-bed sick for a good 2 weeks? That was rare, but it can happen and it’s scary stuff when you’re in business. With orders steadily coming in every day and picking up steam as we head towards the holidays, even one day off would really back us up. During the busy months, every day is a constant race to play catch up. And when all orders are out and you’ve gone all the way back down to zero again, you breathe a sigh of relief and maybe get a glass of wine, but then the orders start coming right back at you again.

I’ve noticed that some of our small food business peers have much longer turnaround times – some as long as 7-12 days during busy times. Since the beginning, we’ve kept a strict turnaround time of 3 days or less and miraculously, Mark has been able to keep up with it single-handedly as he’s able to bake up to 2000 cookies himself in a day if needed, but I’ve been wondering if we can relax that policy especially when we’re hit with press that results in a lot of orders. I think mentally we like to push them out out as soon as we can so they don’t build up, snowball and hang over us, but this never ending cycle of playing catch up is really tiring.

What do you think is an acceptable turnaround time for hand-made baked goods? What is too long (keeping in mind that shipping takes 2-3 days)?

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  • Fog and Thistle November 4, 2009 at 6:22 am

    Did you guys get a flu shot?

    I cover myself by telling people to allow 7 days for their order to be fulfilled prior to shipping. Like you, I don’t like to have things over my head so I usually ship out within a couple of days. But I have that extra leeway when life takes over like when one of the kids gets sick (and it seems Leon is *always* getting sick. Like this week. Again!) That way I know I can push through to the weekend if need be and I have Matt on hand to help out.

  • modernemotive November 4, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Why not push it to 5 days (production only, not shipping)? Then will shipping time attached, it’s taking approx. 1 week for customers to get their goods (I’m taking about small orders obviously). I think that’s acceptable. If you find that’s still too tight, extend by a few days again. I’d just edge it out by a few days first to see where it lands you and how you both feel.

    Adele

  • Michelle November 4, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I really just want to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts everyday…your honesty, relatability, and great writing style makes me excited to keep reading. Keep up the wonderful work!

    As for turnaround time…if I knew shipping took 3 days, I’d be okay with getting my goodies in 5 days. As long as a seller tells me when I can expect them, I’m fine. I just don’t like when I’m left hanging, wondering “When did they say they’d be delivered?”

  • suann / simplesong November 4, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I hear you about missing a day — amazing how quickly you can get behind on things.

    As for shipping, being one that orders food regularly, I’d be totally fine with receiving within 7 – 10 days. I think you’d be fine with adding a few days to production — I’m impressed that you can turnaround in 3 days! Also, around the holidays I think people definitely understand things take longer.

    (and 2,000 cookies in a day?? amazing)

  • hammocks November 4, 2009 at 10:00 am

    when i ordered from you i was pretty surprised to receive it so quickly, i totally expected (and would be fine with 5-7 days). i think you can certainly extend to at least 5 days, not including shipping, just put it on the order receipt and add in that holiday orders should be ordered with enough time (or that holiday takes 7-10 days). it’s easy to treat yourself like a machine when you’re small but like you said if you get sick it’s still up to you.

  • Sara M. November 4, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I totally agree with the 5-7 days during non-holiday time and 7-10 days for holiday time. Do you have an option where someone can pay a bit more ($4) to get a 3 day (express) turnaround? That would be reasonable to me!

  • ray November 4, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I think you could extend the shipping a bit, it’s all about managing expectations… being clear about the policy and following through on it. You can always switch it back if customers don’t like the change.

  • Tumus November 4, 2009 at 10:53 am

    3 days turnaround is really a miracle. I could wait up to 5 days for you to get it baked and because you always ship priority waiting another 2-3 days at that point would be okay. Overall it would only be a real week before I’d get my order. And that’s not bad imo.
    I expect longer shipping times during the Holidays 🙂

  • Stella November 4, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I think the suggestion of 5-7 days non-holiday/ 7-10 days holiday is fair. I think it would be great to list that clearly, and if you’re up for it, offer an express option for more $ as mentioned above. I always find I want my orders from you like, yesterday, but I would have nooo problem for a slightly longer turnaround!
    It does need to stay within a week as I recently ordered an Etsy item from someone and was really disappointed in the 2 weeks it took. I think the more disappointing this is there were no updates, I didn’t know when it shipped, and I had no idea when the item was made and coming, so communicating “your order has been shipped” is great, too. And it breaks up the production + shipping time as 2 separate things, not 1 long wait.

  • alicia November 4, 2009 at 11:13 am

    As excited as I get when our order arrives in record time (we just devoured the last pumpkin ginger sandwich cookie–omg, they are DELICIOUS!), I think a 5 – 7 day turnaround is totally acceptable and 7 – 10 days for holiday orders is definitely reasonable. Your treats are well worth the wait!

  • Nina November 4, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    1 week is fine. Customers are willing to wait unless they have an event of course. Then those would be a priority. Let your customers know,there is no sense stressing over things like this really. Etsy customers are very understanding when it comes to their orders. They do understand that small businesses/home businesses are different than commercial ones. That’s what makes us all special/different from the big guys. Our items are worth the wait.

  • Perideau Designs November 4, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Although stalking the mailbox waiting for your goodies is agonizing I would wait a week for them to be shipped. They are worth the wait and especially around the holidays people expect things to take a little longer. Hope this helps!

  • sally November 4, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I think 3 days turnaround is amazing! But 7-10 is quite reasonable particularly since it dealing with food items.

  • Tej November 4, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I think 7days from the time of ordering to package arriving would be very reasonable, but as someone one else stated as long as you are clear with your delivery times at the time of ordering and stick to them, I don’t think any customer could/would argue… if they weren’t happy I’m sure they would ask if it could be sooner or not place an order in the first place. I live in the UK and I’m gutted that I can’t find an equivalent service to yours closer to home. Would also like to add I love your blog, well written, inviting, interesting and great photos.

  • Kitty November 4, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I do think 3-5 days is reasonable. Maybe even 5-7 if you must.

  • olivia rae November 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    those photos are absolute perfection!! they are melting my heart. i want to be a little kid again! your daughters are so incredibly beautiful! xoxo

  • Ginny November 4, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    When we ordered it took like 3 weeks for the package to arrive. We’re like 2 hours away. You shipped wicked fast… in like 2 days. Stupid third party post office systems and BS phantom delivery confirmations. So – I wouldn’t mind the option to use a different carrier. But that is really a silly amount of extra work on your end. 5-7 business days to process an order (and longer during holidays) is acceptable.

  • nella November 4, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I think 3-5 days processing + shipping is reasonable around the holidays. one thing to consider when the time between when someone orders and when they receive is going to be longer than a week is the mountain of e-mails you’ll get, (and thus have to spend time responding to), when people start to wonder where their order is. this always drives me crazy and so we ship within a day or two mostly. one thing that has also worked for my company is only shipping twice a week. we ship monday and thursday and really dig into product making on tuesday and wednesday. and we too make totally handmade items in a kitchen that take forever to produce, then package, then label and ship.

  • Annie From Seattle November 4, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    I heartily vote for an “express” charge for faster orders! There are those of us…ahem…who are a bit unorganized and last minute.

  • G. November 4, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Ok. I’m hooked. Not only by your style of writing, your beautiful family, your awesome photographs, but the style you’ve given your girls. I’m a fan.

    Now, about those cookies, if they are awesome? I’m willing to wait a week for them, including shipping. Only if they are awesome. So, send me some? =)

  • mindy November 9, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I only ship on Monday thru Wednesday, so if someone orders on Wednesday or later, they have to expect to get their order approximately a week later.Local orders can be a little different, depending on the size and whether they are pick-up. Seems to work for me, but it still seems as though I am always scrambling!

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