The economic reality of 2012 has forced furniture retailers to review every aspect of the sales and delivery experience they provide to customers. Many have made the hard decision to replace old employees with more capable people. Others have invested in refresher training in order to move toward the goal, perfect deliveries on every sale.
High Performing Furniture Retailer warehouse and delivery departments consistently complete over 97 percent of their deliveries perfectly. A good first step toward the achievement of this goal is to capture delivery statistics using the Perfect Delivery Index. It’s a measure that assumes that problem deliveries are within the control of the operations department, with the exception of customer errors and well hidden manufacturers’ defects.
To achieve a high level of customer delivery satisfaction, all previous steps in the supply chain have to be done correctly. Further, when problems are encountered the post delivery service must be timely and efficient.
One of the key ways to become a High Performing Retailer is to recognize the role of delivery drivers. Making a perfect delivery is the last step in completing a sale, and the first step toward the next sale to a satisfied customer, her friends and family through the power of word of mouth advertising, Facebook and other people media. It is therefore, imperative that retail management allocates the time and resources to provide delivery drivers with appropriate training and tools to do a professional job.
WAREHOUSE & DELIVERY JOB DESCRIPTIONS
Most employees want to do a good job and will do so when provided with easy to understand job descriptions and training. Our clients have used the job function format shown on page 26 successfully. You can modify it to fit your specific operation. Limit job descriptions to ten points and one page. If possible, have employees see a draft, and allow them to comment before the job outline is finalized. This will increase their motivation to achieve perfect deliveries. Similar job sign-off sheets can be created for other operations related jobs including receiving, warehousing, prep and service.
Note that this format provides sign-off for both the employee and supervisor, and becomes part of the employee’s personnel file. It can then be used to coach or as backup for discipline or termination. Obviously the goal is to get every employee to provide uniform quality performance and minimize turnover, a costly and time-consuming process.
Using this approach will reduce stress throughout your organization and largely eliminate customer service hassles that may end up at the Better Business Bureau or on the Internet. And, if you do get negative comments or complaints, make sure you post them internally, along with your response where they can be seen by all departments so everyone can work to improve customer satisfaction.
FURNITURE PREP PROCEDURES
1. Unpack & inspect each item for damage - mark areas that need attention.
2. Open al drawers and doors and adjust if needed.
3. Check all drawer guides (spray if needed).
4. Attach all handles and hardware and tighten as needed.
5. Clean or polish all wood surfaces, remove packaging marks/ excess wax.
6. Clean and inspect glass/ mirrors.
1. Fluff and adjust all back, arm and seat cushions.
2. Stand back and check for fabric match, plaids, stripes, etc.
3. Check all seams and zippers.
4. Clip all loose threads (Do Not Pull).
5. Inspect all wood trim and front panels.
6. Operate ALL mechanisms (reclining and sleeper).
7. Apply fabric protection if ordered.
1. Before assembly, inspect all tops and leaves for match.
2. Install all leaves to check fit.
3. Check all chairs for splits or defective finish.
4. Check level of chairs and tables.
5. Clean and polish all wood surfaces.
1. Before assembly, inspect all tops and legs for damage.
2. Install all leaves to check fit.
3. Check finish match on all legs.
4. Assemble properly and tighten all bolts and legs.
Delivery/ Pickup Inspection & Delivery
1. Unpack & inspect each item for damage before discarding packaging materials.
2. Inspect all items by completely walking around 2 times.
HOME FURNISHINGS SALES AND SERVICE ISSUES
To achieve maximum customer satisfaction and profitability, it is necessary as well to prevent problems that arise farther up on the supply chain from getting dumped on the delivery department. It all starts with the salesperson properly completing the order and noting any special conditions such as a third floor walkup or other impediments to getting merchandise into the home. Sales and service staff need to be aware of the consequences of, and made accountable for, clerical errors such as transposing a number that can result in receiving the wrong fabric or even a completely different piece.
FOLLOWING WAREHOUSE & DELIVERY PROCEDURES
The warehouse staff also has to do all the right things. Every warehouse employee should be supplied with a written job description similar in format to the delivery driver description shown on the first page of this article. The procedures listed on the previous page were adapted from large posters in the operations department of a major furniture retailer as summary reminders for the workers.
To make all of this work well, managers must show commitment by visiting the shipping dock and looking over staged furniture. Each sofa, table and mattress that gets loaded carries with it your reputation. Customers remember their entire delivery experience from the greeting through delivery for many years to come.
Contributing editor Dan Bolger of The Bolger Group helps companies achieve improved transportation, warehousing and logistics. See many other articles by Dan in the Operations Management article archives on the furninfo.com website. You can send inquiries on any aspect of transportation, warehousing or logistics issues to Dan Bolger care of Furniture World Magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him direct at 740-503-8875.
Read other articles by Dan Bolger