Snapshot: Plants Delivered Chicago, an online plant shop in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, saves over 90% on administrative costs as well as invaluable time using Onfleet last mile delivery software.
Plants Delivered Chicago is an online plant shop based in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood offering plant delivery throughout the Chicagoland area and beyond. Founded in 2019, Plants Delivered Chicago fills a gap in the market, offering vibrant large-scale plants at an affordable price with in-person delivery.
For instance, many large plant sellers ship 2-3-foot plants for $200 says Founder Andy Robledo. “I can do the same thing, charge the same price, and deliver 2-3 times the plant in person.”
Plants Delivered Chicago went full time in April of 2020 just as the world shut down and sheltered in place.
“When the pandemic hit, I was the only person delivering plants around the clock at that time in the city of Chicago. Most places only delivered 1-2 days a week and hadn’t established an easy way for folks to order online. I was ahead of the curve,” says Robledo.
As non-essential businesses like plant shops began to close, Robledo decided to keep plant delivery alive.
“There was just a massive demand for plants, and there wasn’t an easy way to get them because people were sheltering in place,” says Robledo. “Most shops were closed, but the wholesalers were still open because they were considered essential businesses regulated by the USDA.”
Word of mouth spread, Plants Delivered Chicago was picked up by several news sources, and business demand exploded.
“I went from doing maybe a handful of deliveries a week to 200-300 deliveries a week. It was insane,” says Robledo. “I had to scramble and hire someone. I was doing everything out of Excel and Google Maps. Literally, I was going nuts.”
As the logistics and administrative side of business quickly got out of hand, Robledo thought there had to be an easier way to organize and optimize delivery routes.
“I shuffled through five different apps on my phone, and they all sucked,” says Robledo.
In the summer of 2020, Plants Delivered Chicago implemented Onfleet delivery management software based on the recommendation of a friend in software development who had first-hand experience using Onfleet.
“He said it was the gold standard in last mile delivery solutions—that this is what you use,” says Robledo. “So that’s when I started using Onfleet.”
Robledo used Onfleet to optimize his overall delivery experience and scale operations. Onfleet’s integrated route optimization engine uses real-time data including time, location, capacity, and traffic to produce the most efficient routing solutions, providing Plants Delivered Chicago with up-to-the-second customer info, order details, notifications, and navigation.
Plants Delivered Chicago quickly saw how Onfleet’s last mile delivery solution could scale operations and boost efficiency.
1. Reduces administrative costs by over 90%
In the past, Robledo tried to grow and scale the business by hiring employees but found that it was difficult to keep up with payroll.
“I almost crashed the business into the ground several times trying to make payroll,” says Robledo, who employed administrative assistants at roughly $55k-$65k a year per individual.
“Onfleet was a big expense to take on in the beginning, but the alternative was having an assistant ride around with me all day, so it just saved me so much money in the end,” says Robledo.
2. Reduces chaos and stress
Onfleet’s advanced logistics software allowed Plants Delivered Chicago to replace the work and expense of administrative employees as well as reduce the stress that comes with running a business.
“This app allows me to stay lean, and it’s just me and my dogs now doing deliveries,” says Robledo. “It allows us to manage all the chaos on our own without an assistant and without extra admin work on my part.”
Robledo continued, “Delivery is a mess without all of the pieces you have in the software. It removes a lot of headaches from my day.”
3. Saves invaluable time for non-profit work
Robledo says, “The silver lining is that Onfleet frees up time to do other things.”
The main way Robledo uses his extra time is to support his non-profit Feeding People Through Plants, which began with visits to Chicago’s many homeless encampments. As Robledo’s business grew and his deliveries took him all over Chicago, he noticed more and more tent cities popping up and food pantry lines wrapping around the blocks.
“I wanted to do something. I can’t just continue to drive past this and not take action,” says Robledo who used his free time to help people with everything from shelters, food, heat, and clothing to changing people’s lives by offering a path to sobriety.
“It’s been really cool to see the lives I’ve changed in just a few months through this work,” says Robledo. “If I didn’t have software like this that improves business efficiencies, I wouldn’t have the mental and emotional space or capacity to take on all this other work.”