Although it doesn’t happen often, we are asked from time to time why we charge what we do for delivery and sometimes we’re asked why we even charge a fee at all. As it currently stands, our delivery fee ranges from $5 to $12. The smallest fee is assigned to deliveries within the city limits of Valley, where our shop is located. The next step up is a $6 fee for any delivery within the city limits of our neighboring towns of Lanett and West Point. Outside of the city limits of the three towns, fees will range from $7 to $12, based on distance and ease of delivery (dirt roads, for example, causes more wear and tear on a vehicle than paved roads).
Why we charge a fee: It is true that in days gone by, delivery was indeed free. But that is when a van cost $10,000, gas was under $1.20, and the minimum wage for employees was $3.35 per hour. Now, a reliable vehicle will cost nearly $30,000, gas is over $2.50, employees are near $10 an hour, and insurance has more than doubled. A new set of tires (which we go through more quickly then your average vehicle) is over $400. Regular maintenance isn’t free either. So, over the years, offering a delivery service became a major business expense, and florists simply could not bear that cost without compensation.
We began charging for delivery in 1988…a mere $1 per delivery. And of course, over time, the fees increased. We feel it is still a great bargain…pay us $5 to make a delivery in town on your behalf and you never have to leave your house or your job, and within a short time, a loved one will receive a gift from you, hand delivered and as fresh as possible. You have the option to pick up your gift if you choose, but isn’t it worth $5-6 for the convenience of having someone else handle it?
Why are fees to outlying areas $10-$12? We cover over 400 square miles on our delivery routes. We deliver to most any destination within a distance of 10 miles. There are several places that push that distance…Kia Motors, for example. Kia is over 9 miles from this shop and the delivery fee is our maximum of $12. Driving time is 20 minutes one way, so a round trip to Kia will take 40 minutes or more, not including the time it takes at Kia to locate the recipient inside the plant and make contact (and trust me, this can take 15 minutes alone). So the better part of one hour is spent on this one delivery…that’s an hour’s wage for the driver, plus gas and mileage on the delivery vehicle. All things considered, $12 is a bargain as well! Deliveries to homes in the rural areas outside of town are often quite difficult, as many homes are not identified with a house number, thus taking more time for the delivery. If you live outside the city and have an easily read number on your box or house or you have a 911 post in your yard…we thank you! You make it easier to make deliveries!
The bottom line is that delivery is a very expensive service for any business to offer its customers. If you compare our fees to any other courier business, they are definitely much more affordable.
A related topic…we are often asked to deliver to Lafayette, Opelika/Auburn, and Lagrange, just to name a few of the most popular delivery destinations outside of our service area. Many callers get upset that we don’t service those areas because “it’s not that far”. There are several reasons why we do not deliver into other areas. 1. Most every town requires a business that makes deliveries into their area to have a local business license. If I had to purchase a license for any of these other towns, the price of delivery would sky rocket, as licenses are not cheap. 2. We stay quite busy delivering in the Valley area alone. If we branched out and offered delivery elsewhere, a second vehicle would have to be bought and another staff member added to our team. That would run the cost of delivery up immensely, and that cost would have to be covered by the consumer. 3. We know the Valley area quite well. We know of roads that GPS can’t even find. But other towns…we just don’t know them well enough to begin to deliver into them, and as we’ve learned, even a good GPS unit at times is no help. And lastly…4. If we did not add another van and driver but offered delivery into these other areas, in the amount of time it would take to make one single delivery in Opelika (for example), we could make 6 or 8 deliveries here in town. In other words, it just doesn’t make good business sense. So no…we will never be able to offer delivery into Lafayette, Opelika/Auburn, or Lagrange on a daily regular basis….not that you would be able to afford it if we did.
Lastly, in our current economic climate, we’ve had to cut down on expenses so that we don’t have to raise our prices. As such, we do not have a full time driver and we offer delivery twice a day…one delivery run in the morning and one in the early afternoon. The overwhelming majority of our customers order early in the day and request delivery as early as possible, and this schedule has worked nicely for us. However, there are days when someone calls with a delivery request at 2 or 3pm. If our driver is still on the clock, we’ll be glad to handle such a request if it all possible. But, on days when our afternoon run is complete, our driver might leave work at 2pm or so as it just doesn’t pay for us to keep them on the clock for hours once delivery orders stop coming in for the day. As a result, we can guarantee requests for same day delivery if the order is received by 1pm Eastern time. Any request for a delivery that is received after 1pm depends on delivery personnel availability.
We’ve been doing this for 49 years now, and trust us…operating a small business in a small town is not easy. We try to make decisions that service our customers well without breaking the bank and forcing us to shut our doors. We look forward to designing flowers and delivering them in the Valley area for another decade or two and it is our sincere hope that when you need flowers for any occasion, we are your first choice.
The Sorrell Family and the House of Flowers