Cooperation – 1. A
A co-op is a group of people who order things together to get a better price. Sometimes you get the better price because buying in bulk is cheaper. Sometimes it is just the combined order total that allows you access to things at a reduced price through a buying club type of organization.
There are certain things that you need to take into consideration.
You might think this one is obvious, but to many it is not. They have never thought about what a co-op is or they are new to the world of co-ops. You all have to cooperate together to make it work. There are several areas where you need to cooperate.
You must be team minded. If each one of us is only concerned with ourselves and what we need or want that is unfair to everyone else. If the group is having to buy a large quantity of an item to get the best price, maybe order a bit more than you normally would. Watch for communication that they are a bit short on something and maybe bump your order up. Pay attention to minimums on orders. Let’s say that the item comes in a 50 lb. bag. Sometimes they will have a minimum of 5 lbs. or tell you that you have to order in 5 lbs. increments. Don’t order 2 lbs. because that is all you need. Find someone else to go in with you to make up the difference and then you be responsible for separating out your items. Often times a couple of people make up the difference and order more so that everyone gets the good price. This needs to be spread around and shared.
Many co-ops handle payments in different ways. I am part of one group that requires all monies up front when the order is placed. It is a large group and not everyone knows everyone. In my co-op I run, I pretty much know everyone and I handle different orders, different ways. Some of them I know when I place the order how much each person owes me. I usually go ahead and place the order and immediately send out emails telling people what they owe. I order from one company each month. I never know for sure until the order gets here the next week what the exact prices are. People are expected to pick up their orders on the day of delivery and they pay me then. Other orders I place with a friend’s group. I never know exactly when it is coming, and I pay them when I pick it up. Then I send out emails telling people what they owe and have them communicate when they are going to pick it up. I determine from that if they need to mail me a check or use paypal. Here is what can happen and you might not even realize it. A large order is usually paid via credit card. If people are slow to pay, sometimes the billing cycle on their credit card rolls around and the person who placed the order is paying interest on that amount. In other words it cost the person that placed the order fees. Prompt payment is one way you can cooperate.
Another area of cooperation is on picking up your orders. Be as prompt as you possibly can to get your items. We have started doing a delivery once a month to a nearby town. Anything that they order through the month will be held until the next delivery. If you do not have prior arrangements to leave your item for a later pick up, come and get your order in a timely manner. Space may be an issue. Items needing refrigeration may not always have a space in the fridge. Damage may occur due to unforeseen circumstances. Who is responsible for that damage?
Unloading may be another area you can help in. Ask if you are supposed to help with that and what time you should be there. We used to be part of a group that the truck gave a half hour window of when it would be there. We were all expected to come and help unload the truck. I do not require that for my deliveries because I am given a 2 hour window and don’t expect people to wait around that long. I also have wonderful neighbors that lend a hand at unloading.
I have some people who are wonderful at communication. They never leave me guessing at where they are with an order. I appreciate good communication. If I tell them we have a chance to go in on an order of salt and they are not planning on being part of that order, they let me know. If they are going to order, they are very clear about what they want, and they list the amounts clearly and state the price. When the odd unscheduled order comes in, they give me a couple of different times they could pick it up and let me pick the one that works best. Communication saves everyone time and keeps mistake from being made.
Co-ops are a team effort. Think about ways you can help the whole group.
Did you learn anything new with this post? Something you had not thought of before? Let me know in the comments below. You KNOW how I love comments.