It was lap 180 of 200 in the 1987 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and Mario Andretti, who had led 170 of the first 177 laps, heard his engine backfire so bad he said “the sound almost blew my brains out.”
Nobody else was on the lead lap with him. He would have won the race, had he finished.
Instead, Al Unser cruised into victory lane to kiss the bricks and chug the milk.
During the 2016 International Triathlon Union’s Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico, Jonny Brownlee, the 26-year-old British triathlete and Rio Olympic silver medalist started acting strangely just 400 yards to the finish line and collapsed when he crossed it.
This is, apparently, a common occurrence during elite triathlon races
If you visited Slate Magazine on June 16, 2017, you would have found this headline:
The company wants you to pick up your own deliveries. That’s what’s behind its purchase of Whole Foods.
In 2019, foot traffic to Whole Foods stores was up 16.5% as shoppers ducked in to pick up packages from Amazon lockers installed in Whole Foods locations. These “micro visits” didn’t necessarily increase profits at Whole Foods, because customers were in and out in 5 minutes, but those visits did save Amazon money because they didn’t have to pay for last mile delivery — getting the packages from the final distribution center to customers’ houses
In the world of logistics “Last Mile Delivery” keeps the accountants up at night. It’s the most expensive part of a sale.
If you’re a garden center that added delivery services during COVID, you have probably experienced this.
If you’re a wholesale grower with its own fleet, you’ve spent the better part of the last two years juggling outrageous demand for product with rising labor costs to keep your last mile (delivery) service going and growing.
If you’re a container gardening professional with ten, twenty, or two staff members you’ve definitely planned routes, crunched numbers, and stayed on top of gas prices.
The last mile is where profits go to die.
Not just because it’s costly (labor, gasoline, opportunity cost) to deliver goods, but also because the last mile delivery experience is hugely important to customers and factors into their purchasing decisions
A 2018 study by Convey, a Delivery Experience Partner (logistics related company) revealed that “84% of customers are unlikely to shop with a brand again after a poor last mile delivery experience.”
In large part, that’s due to the “Peak-End Rule.” Research shows that people remember events in snapshots, and those snapshots determine the overall impression of the experience. Due to a recency bias in memory, the end of an experience (THE LAST MILE) carries a lot of weight in someone’s impression of the experience.
Every business has a last mile experience.
It just looks different, depending on your business.
- Retail stores: You ARE the last mile! Everything about a customer’s in-store experience will affect their likelihood of coming back and spending more. The last touch points are generally the cashwrap/ checkout and the parking lot where bulky or large items are loaded.
- Online plant stores: The last mile starts when plants are packed for shipping and ends when the customer opens the box. Are the plants alive or dead? Did they take 2 days or 2 weeks to reach the customer? Does opening the box feel like opening a gift or an exercise in 3 am Christmas Day WHERE ARE THE EXTRA BATTERIES AND HOW CAN I NOT FIND ANYTHING TO CUT THE 300 PLASTIC ZIP TIES SECURING THIS 900 PIECE KITCHEN SET TO ITS PLASTIC BACKING. S&^#!
- Wholesale growers: The last mile starts when the trucks are loaded and ends when the garden center unloads the racks or the landscaper accepts delivery. Does the customer know when you’re coming? Do they have space to accept delivery? Is the LTL shipment rattling around in a half empty truck?
- Container gardeners: The last mile starts when you load up the supplies and ends when your client comes home to see their gorgeous pots and nothing else because you are a magical being that made their spectacular new plantings appear.
- Speakers: The last mile is you giving your talk to the audience.
- Content creators: The last mile happens when the customer interacts with the product. If your product is an informational website, it is the last mile. If your users can’t find what they expect (due to social media posts, marketing posts, articles, and any other marketing that pushed them to the site), they won’t enjoy or benefit from the last mile and they might not come back.
Avoiding engine failure.
We’re at the starting line of the race called “Spring in the horticulture world.”
Indeed, we have 500 miles to go before we sleep.
July looks mighty far away, but we’re all going to have to avoid what Mario Andretti described as his undoing in 1987: “Keeping the revs down had put the engine into a bad harmonic range and caused the breakdown.”
“We didn’t know enough about the Ilmor [Chevrolet] engine. It was very new, and this was its first 500. But we opted to run it.”
After the breakdown, the crew ran a simulation and figured out that instead of letting off the gas, he should have kept on it.
Luckily for us, this isn’t our first 500 mile race.
Lucky for us, we KNOW the points where our engines start to backfire, especially near the end of the busy season and we can prep now so that our last mile is as wonder- and profit-filled as our first.
Here’s What to Do
- Finalize job roles and responsibilities so everyone is crystal clear on what they’re expected to do and the level of service they’re expected to provide.
- Review workflows. Whether your job is to deliver a finished marketing email, a finished container, or a rack of finished plants, there are workflows that lead staff from start to finish. Make sure they’re updated, accurate, and accessible to everyone involved in the flow.
- Create as many of your marketing materials as you can ahead of time, and schedule what you can ahead of time. If you’re not sure how to do that, the recording of my AmericanHort Marketing Mastery series part 3 can help you.
- Make an EOD (End of Day) plan. In my world, the end of the day is when things fall apart. I’m tired and grouchy and always want to shut down my computer and collapse. That’s unfortunate, since, according to peak-end, I will remember my work day largely by how it ended. Every business can benefit from a “check out” process. We have one that involves cleaning our inboxes and our project boards for the day to prepare for the next day. A landscaping business could send a cooler of cold drinks for the staff to crack open, EOD. A retailer could gameify the EOD by designating a customer service/ cashier of the day that gets to do something interesting or special. I have low-cost/ high impact ideas but this newsletter is over, so if you want to chat EOD rituals, email me and I’ll send you an idea!
- Get help. If you KNOW that you’re going to run out of gas to so something midway through the season (marketing emails, social media posts, website updates I’m looking at you), reach out to someone now. That way they can get you all situated in their schedule, they’ll have your logins and your promo schedule, and they can jump in as soon as you send up a flare. You might have to pay a little deposit to ensure they’re there when you need them, but the peace of mind will be worth it.
Fresh off the assembly line!
Pursuant to this week’s theme, I’m super excited to publicly announce/offer something we’ve provided to clients for years, but that didn’t really have a name.
Last Mile Email Service and Last Mile Website Service!
If you like to write your own newsletter and gather pictures but can’t get it across the finish line and out the door, we can help you! It’s called “Last Mile Email Service” and generally costs about $200-$300/month for a monthly newsletter. You provide the content and we do the rest. Your friendly GOW account rep will remind you about deadlines to get us your content and send you newsletter tests to approve before we schedule. Interested? Send me an email.
If you like creating website content but don’t want to post it, we can do that for you, too.
These are retainer-based services invoiced in $600 chunks and billed down in 15 minute increments. No monthly fee. Just work on demand to get you across the finish line.
My favorite appointment scheduling tool.
NGB National Day Of Calendar
Really useful for planning email and social posts
Bio like BEYONCÉ
Ahead of high season give your bio a boost.
Drivers. . . START YOUR ENGINES!
PS: If we’re not connected in LinkedIn, click here to connect! We’re sharing a lot more quick tips on the Garden of Words LinkedIn page and on our agency Instagram @thegardenofwordsagency, too.