When it’s time for small businesses to expand, it’s important to have the right systems in place to allow for the growth. Such was the case with Rice Family Harvest, LLC, a family owned farm and orchard from Ohio, that sells produce like apples, peaches and berries through farmer markets and their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) home delivery program.
When the farm’s business was smaller, they used the free routing program available on MapQuest to deliver CSA boxes of fruits and vegetables to customers. “As our business grew, however, that wasn’t going to work,” explained owner Nancy Rice. “We were limited on the number of addresses, and MapQuest optimize the route.”
By May 2014, the Rice family farm was delivering to 300 customers. “We were scrambling for a routing system that worked,” Nancy said. “We grew quite a bit in a year, and we didn’t realize what we didn’t have until the season started.”
To make things more complicated, the farm’s CSA deliveries change every week. “It’s not the same people on the same order,” Nancy said. “You can get CSA boxes delivered weekly or every other weekly, plus people pause deliveries for vacations.”
Nancy subscribed to MyRouteOnline.com in 2014 after trying other routing services. She was attracted to the service’s easy-to-use user interface. Nancy defines the routes by ZIP codes, and each route averages 70-120 miles.
Now she pulls a manifest of delivery addresses, creates an Excel file and imports that directly into MyRouteOnline. Sometimes she needs to vary the starting address or finishing address, plus she also adjusts the timing of each stop.
“I print out turn by turn directions,” Nancy explained. “Plus I email the list of addresses in order, so when we have to go off route, a smartphone will pull up the GPS directions. We also use the extra fields to indicate the size of the box for delivery. That’s very handy.”
MyRouteOnline.com has made a big difference as the farm has grown. “We’ve tripled our business and do it in a quarter of the time,” Nancy said. “MyRouteOnline.com’s been a very good value.”
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