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Thread: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

  1. #1
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    Default The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    Here's what has happened in the trucking and delivery business, all linked to the pandemic situation. As you can probably guess, unloading and delivering furniture is a career that almost nobody wants, it's a job people land into when they cannot find much work over minimum wage rates. Most have little more than high school educations and its not a highly-motivated work force. When the pandemic occurred many of those doing those jobs quit, retired, and went on unemployment, content to stay home with enhanced benefits from the government. The owners of the trucking companies didn't mind, we all thought sales would crater and there would be little business. But what happened starting 14 months ago, was sales went through the roof as people stayed home and worked from home. Suddenly there was a manpower shortage - a severe one. But those workers moved on and did not return to their former jobs. From drivers to warehouse workers, there was more product being shipped than the freight companies and delivery people could handle. No one to unload the trailers so they sit full for two weeks, and then no where to off load to - because there were not enough drivers to deliver the product. Things backed up - and are still backed up The North Carolina makers are 8 hours from my store, and it used to take 4 to 6 working days to get product landed, now it takes a month.

    The white glove delivery services are even harder hit. No workers. So they hire who they can, and guess what ? - These new people have NO EXPERIENCE. They don't know how to pack, off load, handle and get the pieces into homes. The damage rate has skyrocketed due to ineptitude of these new workers. As someone who ships furniture all over the country, this breaks my heart to get the phone call from clients that the sofa they waited 6 months for is damaged. One of my customers took photos of the crew taking his new sofa off the truck and I was totally shocked at how they handled the piece and unpacked it. Inexcusable but that's the new reality.

    So to that end, these are my current recommendations on shipping:

    1) if you live within a day's drive of the factory (most are in Hickory NC) go get it yourself. We allow customer pickup at the docks Mon-Thurs only. Don't use an open pickup truck or open trailer, if it rains - your furniture in the wrapping will be damaged, especially in the high heat of summer. Best is to rent something like a Ford Transit 250, they are ideal for small loads and actually pleasant to drive. And you get it fast.

    2) Ship to a loading dock or moving and storage company in your area. Your order comes on specialized furniture carriers (not common carrier trucks) and these are the largest 18-wheelers allowed on the road, so they have to go to a facility that can accept a 56' tractor trailer. Most moving and storage companies will accept a shipment for a fee and hold it for you until you pickup, or they will unpack and deliver it to you the final mile. This is about half the price of a white glove service and only a very small change of damage to that dock, less than 1%.

    3) White Glove Delivery Service will still be offered, but damage rates from Sun Delivery (who I have used for twenty years) and its affiliates through America West are at unacceptable levels. To that end, I am now using other delivery companies though I have little hands-on experience with them. Home Delivery Service has come highly recommended but they stay only in the region they can delivery with their own trucks, so that is limited pretty much to the Eastern Seaboard and the do not go west of Alabama / Tennessee / Ohio. Sun Belt Furniture Transport is another new company that assures me the vet their third party delivery agents for white glove and they go to most the United States with the exception of the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Nebraska. Quotes from them take 24 hours to get as well.

    It's unfortunate what has occured in this part of the business, and it doesn't matter who you order from, we all use the same companies because there are only a few still operating. Remember too, that damages are the responsibility of the carrier, not the merchant.
    Last edited by drcollie; 4 Weeks Ago at 04:54 PM.
    Duane Collie
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    Are you familiar with AM Home Delivery? I have some appliances ordered which should be delivered sometime this winter but their website says they also handle furniture.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    I tend not to go with delivery services that do appliances and other goods, because to those places everything is a Costco sofa that costs $ 599 and treated accordingly.

    A client just flew from Dallas Texas to The Keeping Room because there was nothing locally in that area where she lived, and she needed to furnish a new home. She bought thirteen pieces off the floor ( $ 22K). Now, how to get them to her? She had a terrible experience with her most recent move and they tore up a lot of her furniture, so she wanted top quality movers to get the pieces from our store in Virginia. That meant Plycon Van Lines to me, and they came back with a time/price of 8 weeks to get it to her and $ 5,100. That's 20% the price of the goods - tough. I did the math - 20 hours to her house from out store, 20 hours back, 2 hours to load and 2 hours to unload. $500 in fuel on the Transit. So I came up with a delivery charge of $ 3,900 to Texas which saves here $ 1,100 and we will have it to her in two weeks when my guys can take it to her. And it will ride all the way to Texas in an air conditioned truck and we won't damage anything because I am doing the packing and wrapping. Plus my guys know how to handle furniture.

    That is the state of the transit industry right now. We can run a truck with two professional delivery guys halfway across the USA for less money and in 1/4 of the time. Crazy.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    Road trip! It is crazy you have to do that, but also very nice of you to offer for your customer.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    We packed out our Transit 250 for Texas yesterday and my guys will be heading out tomorrow to Dallas with a load of furniture, meanwhile I am headed in the other direction to King of Prussia PA with an Austin Chair and Ottoman for a client in the other truck. We do what we can to get things delivered.

    The state of furniture delivery right now is atrocious. In fact, the system is collapsing in my opinion. There is too much furniture in the pipeline, and there are no warehouse workers or truck drivers due to enhanced unemployment benefits. Workers are simply staying home collecting checks. There are surcharges being placed on all freight that does arrive as what workers they can get are demanding higher wages.

    Case in point:

    I ordered several Jonathan Charles pieces for stock, they were all shipped on August 13th. Jonathan Charles wants to be paid by Sept 13th. I call Shelba Johnson in High Point NC (the shipping company) and they said I will have it in Mid-October, they can't get it here any quicker. So that means 60 days to travel 8 hours? And I don't pay invoices before product is landed so JC has to wait another month to get paid. Ridiculous! Two months to travel 300 miles.

    Customers don't want to hear stories of shipping delays, they just want their orders. Short of driving to the factories and picking it up personally, there are no other ways to speed these shipping channels up. It's very frustrating for everyone. A highway capable freight truck would cost me $ 90K to buy, insure and drive to go pickup at the factories. I'm contemplating it - but then I have to drive it, and that's a two day trip. Not really practical.

    Patience is the key, it's strange times we live in.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    If you can make it to NC, I do recommend trying to pick your items up. We've done this twice in the last year. Each time the items were ready as expected and there was help to load the truck.

    Do keep in mind that packed sizes of items are much larger than the actual sizes so bring enough vehicle to carry. My wife flew to Charlotte on Tuesday at 6 a.m., uber'd to Budget truck, drove the hour or so to Hickory, got loaded up and back here to Birmingham by about 8 p.m. Long day but very doable!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    Yes! The worst thing is to not bring enough truck.you’re far better to err on the side of too large than too small. Your SUV is not a truck, unless you are driving a Suburban. High roof Ford Transits are ideal, ours is in Texas right now and has fifteen pieces of furniture on it, and we still could have fit one more sofa of it. Love them, because they are comfortable and get decent fuel economy, plus the cargo hold stays cool on hot days with the air conditioning.

    Pickup trucks are not ideal,but can work on sunny, cool days if you properly tie in your load. furniture can lift out of pickups at speed and go out of the bed, so lashing in is critical. Even 200 lb sofas can lift at 70 mph.

    Picking up yourself cuts the chance of damages way down, and it’s in your home much, much quicker.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    I'm not sure about quicker.... lotta beer breaks required between unloading recliners :P

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    Quote Originally Posted by sam_g View Post
    I'm not sure about quicker.... lotta beer breaks required between unloading recliners :P
    Any damage from the movers in the final 100 feet of the delivery ?
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The state of shipping in August 2021 - COVID

    Quote Originally Posted by drcollie View Post
    Any damage from the movers in the final 100 feet of the delivery ?
    Depends on what I can claim! Just kidding, so far as I can tell everything is in good shape. I will e-mail you a picture of one of the recliner headrests to see if the markings are typical for that leather. Also, we went through all the packing materials twice, but one of the plastic attachments to the caster feet for the ottoman is missing. Is that something we can easily get a replacement for? Lastly, it's odd, but one of the recliners mechanisms is a bit slower than the other. Only noticed it last night when my wife and I were kicking up at the same time, and we started timing footrest races!

    BTW - as you all know Duane has lots of experience and there's a lot of hidden wisdom in the posts above that we learned the hard way. We ended up renting another pickup on our first trip to H&M because the barstool boxes were nearly over the cab, and they didn't fit as well in a short bed when laid and tied down to prevent them from getting launched.

    Also, height is a big issue, forget minivan with most of the boxes. Our measurement of a suburban interior also lead us to get a moving van this time around. I don't think the height would have worked in it either. Unfortunately, most 1 way rentals are going to be 10-12' trucks, the major companies I looked at wouldn't do any of the smaller vans. And in full packing crates, 2 recliners + 1 ottoman would not have fit in a van too, it was a super tight squeeze in the 10'.

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