The closer you are to a FedEx or UPS shipping hub, the later you can ship orders. That means more precious hours to prepare and package orders.
Both AffordableButtons.com and Mimeo have developed software to prioritize orders based on the deadline, order size, current capacity, and the customer’s location. At AffordableButtons.com, it took three months and $200,000 to make custom software, but it has helped the company scale, says founder Linda Christopherson.
Mimeo has developed relationships with other copy shops. That way, in the rare case that Mimeo can’t complete an order, it can outsource the work to a smaller shop closer to the client.
When things get chaotic, get creative. After a last-minute international order missed the FedEx cutoff, Mimeo sent two employees on a flight to London with 14 boxes of human-resources manuals. The tickets set Mimeo back $4,000, but the company still earned a profit on the $42,000 order.
Treat the small orders as you would the big orders—even if it means an occasional loss. John Delbridge, Mimeo’s chief operating officer, says it’s worth it to keep customers happy. "We don’t look at the cost-benefit analysis of any one order," he says. "What we look at is the life of the customer. And, if we keep them happy, it'll be a long life."