Why The Home Furnishing Industry Is Suffering!

We are all aware that our country has issues with the debt ceiling. Here in the State of Illinois we cannot pay our bills. Our legislature continues to show no direction with the Democrats blaming the Republicans and vice versa. Unfortunately, I would suggest that in business we make most of our own problems. In our industry, as in most, all our customers want is fair value on their purchases. However, given the way suppliers are conducting business it is next to impossible to provide that value. 

Without naming names let me share just a small sample of the issues we have been experiencing over the last six months. The first example is a supplier that promises to deliver a container of slabs from China in seven weeks. These slabs have been sold as part of a large apartment complex kitchen remodeling job that is time sensitive due to tenant move ins and move outs. It has now been ten weeks and we were just informed that it will be another two weeks and the container only has 50% of the slabs promised due to unforeseen problems. Not good.

In connection with the same project, kitchen cabinets for 28 units were ordered with a promised lead time from the factory in Indiana of four to five weeks. It’s now seven weeks and the new promise is next week. Hard to have much faith until the truck actually pulls into the loading dock and the goods are unloaded. One can only hope that the goods are not damaged or made incorrectly. One would think with business off as much as 30% from 2007 it would be easy to not only get materials but that suppliers would be tripping over themselves to get orders. No so.

In fact this same project required over 100,000 square feet of carpet. Our initial order was for 25 rolls of material each approximately 1,500 square feet. Upon cutting the first roll it was determined that the roll was a full 72 square feet shorter than represented. That’s almost 5% less than billed for. This will result in wasted time and could easily result in parts of the project not being completed as scheduled. For the record these goods were manufactured in the United States by one of the leading carpet manufacturers in the world.

Let’s move on to window treatments. We represent one of the finest brands in the market. Unfortunately, over the last three months, more than 15% of their shipments have included defective product causing delays in installation. The results of this are unhappy customers, unhappy retailers and most importantly costs that would not be incurred if the supplier had only performed as promised.

Our industry as well as our country is in trouble. However, I would suggest that much of this trouble could or should be avoided.  All a customer wants, or should expect, is to be treated fairly and get exactly what they bargained for. In fact, as a retailer all I expect is my suppliers to do what they promise. All too often today suppliers are not keeping their promises, delivering defective goods many times later than promised and in general making it impossible for the retailer to meet the expectations of their customers. What ever happened to great customer service? It must have been part of those government budget problems we are all hearing about.

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