Customer Orders

Updated 18th May 2006

Our customers provide our income and if we can’t solve their problems they will start going to other nurseries. The customer order system is designed to give us time to solve their problems if we don’t have the desired stock on the day.

Plants not in stock

Methodically check that the plants are not already in stock. An individual order takes time, and this time is wasted if the plant could have been located on the day. Likewise if you know that the plant is generally unavailable or not suitable do not put it in the order system

Inform nursery staff to tell the customer that although we can never guarantee supply we are happy to take an order and will check with our suppliers.

Ensure as many details as possible on the computer and allocate the order to the appropriate section. Always make sure staff initials are entered and any relevant notes.

The nursery buyer will print out all current customer orders on Monday morning; one copy will be given to you, the coordinator, the others to the sectional buyers within the nursery. When a customer order is found the buyer will write the supplier’s name next to the order on the sheet. Check with the buyer daily as to what is coming in. Most buying is completed by Tuesday afternoon so order labels should be printed late Tuesday so they are ready for the plant controller first thing Wednesday.

To print the order labels you must enter the supplier, date sourced and that it is available.
Labels are printed from the money computor.

Once the plants arrive it is your responsibility to contact the customer and alter the customer order form on the computer to indicate that they have been notified. If the form on the computer does not indicate ‘notified’ the order will again be printed out on the order sheets the following Monday. On the order form, keep accurate details on what you have done – notified yes or no, by letter, phone or email, who you spoke to etc. Keep these for 1 month in case a customer doesn’t receive the letter, message wasn’t passed on etc. and phones to complain, you know what has happened.

If for any reason the customer cannot be notified, you must indicate in the ‘notes’ section of the customer order form that the plant is in the reserve, and the date you tried to contact them and by what method eg phone, fax or mail.

Further responsibilities

It is your duty to contact customers if plants are unavailable. If they have been printed out more than two times, on the third print out discuss with the buyer as to whether it will be available that week, if it is not then an unavailable letter/ message should be sent, recorded in the form and the order deleted from the computer in two weeks. If possible, notify them earlier if we know that it won’t be available.
Remember that the customer order service is designed to help the customer and they can easily become upset with our service if we do not keep them informed after they have placed the order.

Likewise some customers may wish their order to be put down as long term if you know the plant may be available at another time. Use your own discretion and either tell them to try again at the appropriate time of the year or perhaps keep it on for up to six months.

Customer Order section

It is your responsibility to control the Customer Order section in the plant reserve. In the letter / phone call or email sent to them it is/ should be stated that ‘if we don’t hear from you to arrange otherwise the plants will be put into stock after one week’. Give the customer 2 weeks and if they have not collected their ordered plants within the three weekends, put them into stock or give them a phone call. Put plants back into stock straight away if they have changed their mind or have cancelled the order. Leaving them for excessive lengths of time takes up too much space and the plants end up in the special section. Put them back out before they become unsaleable.
The customer order area can be a real hazard if it is not left clear. This area is your responsibility. No trolleys should be in there by a Friday afternoon, it is your responsibility to take them off the trolleys and onto the racks, we do not have enough space or trolleys to have them tied up there on busy weekends. It is only a tight space, so keep on top of clearing it up, particularly during peak times. If staff or tradies leave stock there for too long inform them that it is totally unmanageable due to space restrictions and that it should not happen again.

Larger orders such as trade or quote orders are often best stored on pallets out of the way until they are picked up or delivered.

Making contact, Printing out letters etc.

It is often quickest, simplest and cheapest to contact the customer by phone. Second to that an email is preferred. Be sure to make notes as to how it has been done.
Letters are the last option.
The customer order form is set up to allow the information to be printed automatically onto a letter. Once you know what is coming in and what is unavailable, on Thursday afternoon:

Open Access customer orders file
1. If it is available, click AVAILABLE and NOT STILL LOOKING
2. Put the date in DATE NOTIFIED (Use Ctrl Date)
3. Put in notes LETTER SENT
4. If it is unavailable, only click NOT STILL LOOKING and continue with number 2&3
5. Close file

To print out letters – Open Word Customer orders file
1. Select plant is available or plant is unavailable
2. Click on TOOLS menu. Then MAIL MERGE, then MERGE, then MERGE again.
This combines the customer order name and address information with the letter.
3. Before printing out fix up any spelling mistakes etc.
4. Close the document, without saving the changes.

All letters need any relevant information included for example: if the customer was requesting 8” pots and only 6” were available, state it on the letter so they can decide before spending their time coming in to find that we haven’t ordered exactly what they wanted.

Once the letters have been printed, go back to the Access Customer Order Form and the ticks next to AVAILABLE and NOT STILL LOOKING need to be clicked off to prevent them from being printed out next time letters are printed out. Also click ‘Yes’ next to the ‘Notified’ box. This prevents the order from being printed again on the next list.

Wait until the stock arrives before making contact or sending the letters out. We can’t always rely on the word of our suppliers. Check the stock is exactly as the customer has ordered and the quantities are the same, and then the contact can be made.
All letters should be in the mail by Thursday 6pm; they should then be delivered by Friday. There is more chance of people collecting the plants if they get the letter before the weekend.
Once the plants have been collected, the record can be deleted. Leave orders on for 3 weeks after contact has been made or the letter has gone out, and then delete them from the database to keep it tidy and a manageable size.

Keep on top of staff making mistakes, notify them of what they should be doing otherwise it will keep happening. For example: no one should be putting orders on for 1 tube, it is not worth our while to chase it up. No orders for tomatoes should be put on in June when they could have been told to come back in August etc. Try to educate staff only put definite orders on, we shouldn’t be wasting time when they are unsure of colour or size etc and to put in the notes the amount they are willing to spend up to. Constantly remind staff to take the time to enter the information correctly and try to spell the names of the plants accurately. For email addresses they should either ask to customer to check what they have typed in or read it back to them.


A.M.C.D.A. (Singin’ YMCA…)
Go completely through each stage of the process with all the relevant customers before moving on to the next stage. When it gets busy following this process should reduce the potential for chaos and streamline the workflow. Avoid doing every stage separately for every customer and you shall be as restful as Confucius even when things get interesting. (Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times!”.)

1. Open the Customer Request Form in ACCESS and identify all records that will require a MYOB quote/deposit.
Ø Tick the “Q?” option for each separate plant/record.
2. Print off the C/O Quote Report.

3. Open MYOB to the SALES REGISTER – QUOTES. Go through and rack up all your quotes per customer:
Ø Use “0 -Quote Cash Sale” as the customer, putting the customers name and contact info in the address notes and their surname in the Customer PO. Itemise the plants requested and note the discount that applies etc.
Ø Calculate the 25% deposit on a calculator and record the amount required on a line in the MYOB Quote.
As you go:
Ø Make records on the C/O Quote Report of the invoice# and deposit amount (in the spaces provided),
Ø Print off each quote as you finish it.
4. Collect the MYOB print-outs from the office and b/clip together with C/O Quote Report.

5. Make all your customer calls at once, to confirm orders and collect deposits.
Ø IF YES, the customer wants to go ahead:
i. Take down their payment details (if paying by CCard over the phone on the CC Payments Details form),
ii. Tell them their MYOB invoice number,
iii. Get their email address (or if necessary snail mail address) to send them a copy – they need it when they come in to collect. (NB: Drawing up the quote before calling means if they accept you don’t have to get back to them with the amount, the invoice number, etc. As staff should be alerting customers to the fact/possibility that the Buyer will be calling them for a deposit there shouldn’t be too many cancellations and therefore not too many of the quotes drawn up should be wasted time),
iv. Paper-clip the CC Payments Details form to the relevant Quote and note the invoice number on the form.
v. Make a pile.
Ø IF NO CONTACT leave a message and make a note of your call on the C/O Quote Report.
Ø IF NO: Right-Click on MYOB Quote to Delete Quote.
6. Process all the deposits at once at the front register:
Ø Tick the “Deposit?” box on the C/O Quote Report as you go.
i. Process each individual payment with EFT machine,
ii. Write the associated MYOB invoice number on bottom of the nursery copy of the docket,
iii. Staple nursery copy to CC Payment Details form,
iv. Staple client copy to back right hand corner of MYOB Quote,
v. Make two pile,.
vi. Put all nursery payment records into R4 together when you’re done (R4 is the dedicated register for payments with associated MYOB invoices: press N/S),
vii. Attach all client copies to relevant clip adjacent office door.

7. Update the Customer Request Form in ACCESS:
Ø Sort register as A-Z by customer,
Ø Strip out all new information noted on the C/O Quote Report during this process, recording:
i. “Deposit?”
ii. “Invoice #”
iii. Any notes re: date of contact & ph message left etc.

Customer Order Deposit Procedures

Rationale: To take deposits for items which we would be unable to sell in the normal course of business. For example, we need no deposit for 5 x Abelia grandiflora because if the customer fails to collect them we can incorporate them in the bench and suffer no loss. We would however take a deposit for 20 x Abelia grandiflora because we couldn’t sell 20 Abelias from the bench before they went ‘off’ and looked shabby.
We would therefore take a 25% deposit of the expected cost. This way we estimate that we can recoup our costs if the customer doesn’t collect.

Action: Deposits are therefore to be taken for plant orders that are comprised of:
(a) ten or more of a single selection, (b) one or more advanced stock items, or, that are (c) large general orders.

Procedure & Responsibilities

All nursery staff:
To start this deposit process nursery staff just follow normal C/O procedure, plus:
1. Take down all details as per a normal customer request.
2. Let the customer know (if the situation requires) that their order will require a deposit and that the buyer will be in touch to confirm their order and arrange that deposit.
3. Remind the customer that there is the potential for a delay of between 1 and 4 weeks in sourcing the stock, as per usual.

The Buyer will then:
4. Draw up a quote in MYOB using ‘0 Quote – cash sale’ and save as a quote – putting customer name in the Customer PO box so you can quickly find it on the MYOB system again. Work out a 25 % deposit on the highest estimated cost. Call the customer back and confirm exact details of the order and reiterate the possible time it might take.

5. Once the order is confirmed, the MYOB quote can be pulled up (if it isn’t up already in front of you during the conversation) and the deposit can be taken over the phone with a credit card, or where relevant, they can put it on their trade account. Put the dollar amount of the deposit paid in both the memo box and in the top line of the address box (if room). The deposit payment must be processed through the R4 (invoice sales) register as you would with any other invoice sale.

6. The quote is changed to an invoice by saving as an invoice and the invoice number can be read over the phone to the customer. We email, snail mail or fax a copy of the invoice to the customer, who then has this as a record of the invoice number and the deposit paid; they need to bring this with them when making the final payment and collecting their plants.

7. When the plants arrive it is important to remind the customer that they need to bring their invoice when paying the remaining amount. As an extra measure against slip-ups it is important that a printout of the invoice is made, the amount of the paid deposit is highlighted, and the amount due is handwritten on the sheet. This is then clipped to the dedicated C/O clipboard, behind the service desk just to the left of the office door. The final payment will also be processed through the R4 (invoice sales) register.

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