Five things you can do right now

Make it easy to choose the right products when recording a pallet

In many pack sheds I see staff quickly writing down what is on each pallet as the pallet is created. Without a system to keep this orderly, mistakes are just too easy to make.

Feel free to print this spreadsheet and use it for your pallets.

Do away with handwritten dispatches altogether

Even better, get rid of handwritten pallet records completely by downloading and using this version of the spreadsheet. I suggest using one Excel file for each dispatch you produce. Remember to name each Excel file with the dispatch number or con note number so you can find them easily later on.

Know what prices you were promised for your fruit

Many times growers will send their fruit to specific destinations, even choose one agent over another, because of the price per box they are promised. If you don’t record those promised prices they become meaningless as you’ll never know if you are being paid properly, and if you don’t record the prices in a way you can easily find again you are causing yourself more difficulty and stress.

Unless of course you completely trust your agents to never make a mistake.

I realise of course that the prices your agents promise can be… flexible, but if they are vastly different then you need to ask why.

This Excel file will help you not only record your promised prices, but if you save the filled out version on your computer they will be easy to find when needed.

Know what your freight should cost you

If you only work with one freight company then it is not too difficult to find their email telling you their current rates. But when they change a rate or levy you need to keep track of which is the most recent one.

If you work with more than one freight company it becomes more difficult to keep track of what your freight should cost you.

Why would you care? Freight companies are staffed by people, and people make mistakes. These mistakes can cost you a lot of money over time. Simply checking how your freight invoices compare to your promised rates can catch these mistakes and put more money in your bank.

This Excel file gives you a simple way of keeping all of the promised rates, levies, and surcharges in one place, plus it works out what your per-pallet rates costs you per box.

Cross check that you have been paid what was promised

This is where your attention to detail in the other four sections really pays off.

Keeping clear records of what you send, what you should get paid, and what your freight should cost you is all well and good, but if you never compare those figures with reality then you are not any better for your effort.

Using the spreadsheets above you can quickly compare what grades and sizes you packed with their promised prices. Those of you who are good enough with Excel can of course combine some of the spreadsheets in ways that make this process simpler.

Is it all worth the effort?

We have many, many examples of how our processes have saved growers and pack sheds money, but here are some (anonymised) real world examples:

Typo when creating RCTI
A pallet of 160 Premium avocados was priced at $35 per tray.
When creating the Recipient Created Tax Invoice the agent accidentally typed $25 per tray.
160 x ($35 – $25) = $1,600 the grower was about to lose on that one pallet.

Incorrect destination price used when creating RCTI
An entire dispatch of 22 pallets had prices for a cheaper destination entered, averaging around $3 per tray difference.
160 x 22 x $3 = $10,560 the grower was about to lose on one dispatch!

Levy was double charged on all dispatches (until caught)
Every dispatch had the 7.5 cent avocado levy entered at double its actual cost. This is $0.075 per kilogram, and a dispatch will generally average out to around 17,600kg (160 x 5kg x 22 pallets = 17,600kg).
The levy should have been $1,320 per dispatch, but was instead charged to the grower as $2,640 per dispatch.
If you never crosscheck your invoices your agent gets to keep this $1,320 per dispatch difference.

Freight company charged an unexpected delivery fee
One pack shed had their freight company charge them a $100 delivery fee per load. This customer had already sent around 40 dispatches by the time they caught this issue, potentially costing them $4,000.


The ability to easily cross check costs and prices allowed these pack sheds and growers to quickly catch the errors, and in all of these examples they were better off financially for the effort.

In summary
Doing these comparisons in a spreadsheet is a great step up from not doing them at all, and I regularly see farmers and pack sheds gaining thousands of dollars they would otherwise have missed, but if you want a much simpler way of putting money into your pocket check out our pack shed management software.

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