Plan for the unexpected
It’s important to have a plan for when something unplanned occurs. Since you can’t always predict how things will unfold, it’s good to identify risks and to put someone in charge of making decisions. Define a plan to notify staff, producers and customers, and to set expectations about when decisions will be made and communicated
Consider the following examples. It may be helpful to draw out a decision tree, as well as a phone tree for emergencies.
Without prior notice, the largest farm you work with shows up late, in the middle of when you need to be packing customer orders, and with only half quantities on some of the items. How does this affect the timing for customers? Do some customers get half or do some not get any?
Christmas and New Years falls on the day the farmers drop off their food. Who on your staff will be working? Do farmers lose out on two potentially solid sales days? Do you take off two weeks and strand your customers?
- A frost damages all of the apple blossoms in the area where the orchards you work with are predominantly located. Are there orchards elsewhere in your region that escaped the frost. Can you source from them or will you customers be without local apples this year? If it’s too short notice to figure out local supply for this year, how can you reduce the risk of not having supply next year?
Today is when your customers place their orders. There’s a chance that a bad weather system will track directly to the city where your food hub is located, but some projections show it may be barely some wind and rain when it reaches you. Do you let the order proceed? Will your staff be able to get there? There’s the potential for power outages on the farms, at your facility, at your customers and at your staff’s homes. Let’s say the storm is arriving later than expected and you decide to continue with the order as normal. What would you do if most of the farms were fine and harvested their orders, but then some customers lost power to their refrigerators and didn’t want their orders? What would happen if the power failed while the food was in your coolers?