By the end of June MacFarlane Pheasants has locked up most of our adult pheasant sales for the fall. But predicting the number of birds we need each season is required well before all the orders have been tallied. So how do we do it? With a little history, a little bit of a gamble, and yes, even a little luck.
The first thing we base our fall orders on is customer retention. Companies, including pheasant farms, don’t become big if they’re not doing something right, and we are: over 95 percent of our customers return to us each year. But that number is not just a pat on the pack; it’s a tool that helps us estimate how many chicks we need to produce for adult pheasants in the fall. Because retention is so high, it makes our jobs that much easier, since the lion’s share of the birds can be predicted more accurately than the Wisconsin weather.
The next prediction we make is off what we can emergencies we can expect in the fall. Because we don’t have a hard and fast deadline for orders, new customers generally place them at will. This adds some difficulty—we must ensure we have enough birds on hand to supply our standing customers, but also a cushion to provide for future customers.
Just raise more birds, right? Not so fast. Like your college graduate that’s just moved back home, birds eat a lot, and the more we have on hand, the more feed we’re going through. It’s a delicate balance between having a few in reserve and a farm filled with idle birds, and again we rely on history to plan out when the most birds are needed and then have the largest number of birds ready to ship.
The final piece is that we must remain flexible when orders are changed. Our size is our strength in this regard: early, hard winters in some areas can necessitate our customers adjusting down their orders. This happens, but our size allows us to work with our customers to make sure they don’t get stuck with unused birds with no penalties or extra charges. We’re shipping birds across the world—if you can’t use your birds, we’re confident we can find someone else who can.
By November of this past year we’d already shipped half of our annual 460,000 adult birds for the 2013-14 season. We have been blessed with incredible customer loyalty, and we’re able to thank you in turn by working closely with our customers and responding to their needs. When it comes right down to it, MacFarlane Pheasants is in the business of customer satisfaction. More birds or less, a month ahead or behind, planned out or last minute, our customers come back year after year because of the MacFarlane difference.