Getting Creative for Winter

Back in March I wrote about how I was changing my schedule to accommodate our early morning deliveries to our warehouse.  Six months later, we’ve all pretty much acclimated to working from 7:30 AM to around 3:30 PM on our warehouse days.  Even though we’ve more than doubled our inventory since March, we’re able to receive 99% of our deliveries in that block of time.

UPS comes every day around 11 AM.  FedEx delivers at 7:30 AM and picks up around 3 PM.  Freight companies generally come in the early afternoon.  On the rare occasion that a freight company is scheduled to come later, someone hangs around until the delivery arrives.  Overall, it works pretty well.  Of course, that’s working under the assumption that it isn’t Winter.

With the cold weather on the way there are two potential problems:  commuting and heat.  It’s hard to commute on a cold, snowy morning and get to work before 7:30…not to mention we’re located right next to a high school that starts school just after 7 (see picture).  Then there’s the cost of oil rising as much as 18% from last year, and it wasn’t exactly affordable last year.  Heating a warehouse isn’t cheap, and every hour we can avoid being there will save us some cash.

Oh, and working in a warehouse in the winter kind of sucks too.  Personally, I’d like to spend as little time there as possible during the cold weather.

About three weeks ago I posed the question:  if we could get FedEx to deliver later in the morning and pick up later in the afternoon, how much money could we save on gas?  What if we could push our schedule from 10 AM – 2 PM? We started a spreadsheet and tracked every delivery for a few weeks.  Every delivery – other than FedEx – came in the 9-3 window.

With our increase in volume, FedEx has assigned us a local rep and we actually have some pull now.  Greg was able to talk to a routing expert and negotiate our deliveries to be dropped off at the same time as pickup, which is now 2 PM.

So starting today we now officially work 9-3 on our warehouse days.  We’ll save ~2 hours/day on heating in the winter.  We’ve improved the warehouse so much since February (insulation, programmable thermostats, etc) that we don’t know exactly what a day of heating will cost us, but as soon as I have numbers I’ll let you know.  Consider this though:  2 hours per weekday will save us 200 hours of heating over the course of 20 weeks of winter from Nov – Mar (5 months * 4 weeks/month * 5 days/week * 2 hours/day).  That’s a lot of coin.

We’ve also adjusted our Monday’s so that 2 people can leave each week as soon as we have a meeting and pack orders, which usually is about noon.  Meaning each of us work Monday’s alternating between half and full days, and then two other days from 9 AM – 3 PM.  Not bad considering we still don’t have an employee and have to pack and ship all of our orders ourselves.  We’re becoming so damn efficient that we can double in size, and spend half the time, and get better results (shipping mistakes are down with a new packing check system we put in place).  I can’t wait until that day that we do have employees, but for now 15-18 hours a week in the warehouse aint too bad.

Oh, and I forgot the best part:  I can go back to going to the gym in the morning before work.  9 is perfect.  I can get up at 6, eat, check email, go to the gym, come home, shower, eat, and get to the warehouse right at 9.  I really enjoy working out first thing in the AM so this is a big “lifestyle” deal for me.  Since we went to the 7 AM schedule I haven’t really been able to find a workout schedule I like.  From a personal side of things, it was the thing I was most looking forward to being able to do once we had an employee.  Now I don’t even have to wait.  Good stuff 🙂

7 comments on Getting Creative for Winter

  1. nethy says:

    Also environmental cost…

    BTW, How much of your warehouse are you using? What would it cost to insulate it?

    This is probably beyond the scope of your business at the moment. But a smarter warehouse might go a long way. A smaller insulated area for constant work & a larger ‘storage’ area that doesn’t get as much action time.

  2. Adam McFarland says:

    Nethy – really good question. We have 2 zones: a 600 sq-ft room that we keep around 70 degrees and has five tables for us to work on, and the remaining 4,600 sq-ft of warehouse space that we keep at 55 degrees (the lowest we can keep our products at…and still damn cold in the middle of the winter when packing).

    Greg went through and used spray insulation to fill any gaps to the outside or to our neighbors.

    In the future, we’ll probably benefit from better insulation for the entire building, but we’re taking all of the renovations one step at a time. Hopefully by next year.

  3. nethy says:

    New York is no place for people. Dunno how you Yanks stick it.
    You’ve got such a big country, but you all huddle together in the freezing little corner & shiver all winter paying high rent.

  4. Jeff Wilson says:

    How did you go about getting a rep from FedEx? I’m from a cold state too (Michigan)and realize the problems that cold weather can have not only on inventory but also labor.

  5. Adam McFarland says:

    Jeff –

    Here’s how I understand the process to be:

    When you sign up for a business account number you are assigned a rep on the national level. I *think* they usually send an introductory email or do an introductory phone call, but after that it’s up to you to stay in touch with them. We usually have a ton of questions so we’ve gotten to know our rep well over the years.

    Once you hit a certain volume they assign you a local rep. This is what just happened to us. The local rep is a little more hands on and will bend a little more to meet your needs because now you’re a “valuable” client to them and they don’t want to lose you. For example, they took Greg and George out to lunch and discussed our business to see if there’s other ways they could help us.

    When Greg inquired about the later drop off’s, that local rep brought the issue up with the local routing department and someone from routing contacted us to work out a solution. Thankfully they were able to consolidate our deliveries and pick-ups into one.

    Does that help answer your question? Greg is the one who deals mostly with FedEx, so if you’d like to know more just drop me an email and I’ll put you in touch with him.

  6. […] for us to have maximum freedom while still meeting the requirements of the business.  We each work about 18 hours/week in the warehouse. The rest of the time we’re free to do whatever we want.  Everyone has their own way of […]

  7. […] for us to have maximum freedom while still meeting the requirements of the business.  We each work about 18 hours/week in the warehouse. The rest of the time we’re free to do whatever we want.  Everyone has their own way of getting […]

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