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Thread: White Glove Delivery Time Frames

  1. #1
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    Default White Glove Delivery Time Frames

    In an era of UPS, Fed Ex and Amazon Prime we consumers have become used to very fast, very efficient shipping that arrives in a few days once its boxed and shipped. That expectation leads to disappointments in the length of time it takes to get furniture delivered once you have been notified it has been shipped. I'm going to clarify what goes into shipping your pieces so you can get a better sense of when you might see things land at your doorstep, and this is pretty much industry-wide.

    The major everyday shippers handle tens of thousands of packages a day, allowing them to establish routes and hubs. By comparison, furniture ships are .00001 % of what they do, there is no where near the volume of infrastructure in place so its largely an on-demand business which starts from a central load point and travels to your home. When a manufacturer calls the shipper and tells them there is a load ready, it will typically take 2 to 3 business days (Weekends excluded) for the load to be picked up and taken to the shipper's terminal. Then, another day to log it into their system. Once logged in, it goes to their routing department when they plan the trips out. Once they have a load to a particular region, they will call you - the retail consumer - and give you a broad window of delivery dates. They will never load the truck with your pieces without contacting you first.

    Once confirmed, the furniture is removed from the boxes it was shipped in. They do this for a couple of reasons: 1) Boxes take up too much space in the truck, they 'cube out' the trailer/cargo area. Because this is a thin margin business, they must maximize each rolling mile of the truck and be as efficient as possible, that means tightly packed and blanket-wrapped. 2) They have no way to dispose of the cartons and trash en route. 3) Not all their furniture is high-end, much of it is inexpensive Chinese product that hasn't been out of the box since it left the other side of the world. They want to make sure its intact and deliverable before they haul it across the country.

    So, by Day 4 after its left the factory, there is usually a paper trail on the order. Trucks leave out for the West Coast from North Carolina once a week - and that means 3 weeks time frame on average. They run two trucks if demand warrants. For the East Coast, its a service lane of every 10 to 14 days and for the midwest a solid 2 weeks. Again, these are time frames from once your order is booked in, which means they have contacted you and confirmed. Weather delays, equipment breakdowns and traffic can delay even further.

    In most cases, they will NOT roll a truck into an area if there is not enough load to go into that region. There has to be enough freight to make the load. The past few months have been particularly difficult for the northern regions with the snow and cold, resulting in longer than usual time frames.

    There are companies that will transport in the factory packing all the way to your driveway if you like. That service is available however it runs just about double the standard blanket wrap rate.
    Last edited by drcollie; 08-29-2016 at 09:46 AM.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Alexandria VA
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    Default Re: White Glove Delivery Time Frames 2015

    An update to this thread.

    In today's Amazon Prime environment with tracking numbers on everything, the furniture industry lags WAY behind and there is nothing on the horizon to correct this. As a consumer, you expect your purchases in a timely manner and near 24/7 access to where the shipment is via the internet. Folks, I'm here to tell you it ain't happening and won't be anytime in the near future. The home delivery process on furniture is slow and tedious, with very little information coming your way until you get that trip phone call that they are loading to your area.

    Why can't they fix it? Well they could, but this is a low-margin business and money goes to buying trucks, not computers and software. Ask any owner of a white glove delivery service and they will tell you they are not getting rich. Too many miles to drive in expensive trucks and push back on pricing from stores and customers that affect the rates. In order to keep the prices down they are still a phone call company, largely pen and paper as well.

    I understand you as the customer want to know where you furniture is after you have paid for it, and many folks call me expecting me to have an answer and I don't. There are no back-door phone numbers I have, or special contacts at these delivery companies. I call the main switchboard and get the phone recorder, same as you - then wait for the call back. It's an inefficient and frustrating system, but no way I can improve on it (or any other dealer for that matter).

    There are no hubs and transfer stations across the USA. It's one truck loading out of High Point NC with your pieces and headed to your home. It can take a long time to get there, and obviously they cannot take a sofa to North Dakota for $ 340 if the next closest stop is in Kansas City. So they have to wait until enough furniture is headed in one direction or region to make a load.

    If you just have to know where you pieces are, then you are better ordering from your local dealer - that's the truth of it all. Do not mail or internet order. You can just look at the on-line reviews for these delivery companies and see that all of the consumer ones say "They are terrible", "Worst of the Worst", etc, etc. Read into them and you will see that almost always comes from communication and timeliness. Few complaints are about damage-in-transit or rude delivery crews.

    I wish I had a better solution but I do not. It takes some time to get your pieces to you once they have left the factory. The delivery companies are not the best at communications, either.

    One of the more preferred methods I like is to use a specialized furniture company that does dock to dock. These are not in-home delivery operations, they have to go to a loading down where you live. These are the same companies that we dealers use to get our in-store and local customer product. They are much faster because they run routes every day, and handle much higher volumes than the white glove companies. Shelba Johnson, Murrows Transfer, Watkins-Sheppard, and so on are some of these companies. They only carry furniture - so not other loads are on the truck to penetrate the packing materials. However they do not do residential deliveries or inside ones. They are dock to dock only. As a retail customer, if you want to use one of this method of delivery then find a local moving and storage company close to your house, and contract with them to receive the pieces then bring them to your home. It will be faster and less chance of damage, too.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

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