Sometimes a partner can become so big that it doesn't really care if it's holding you back from rendering top-notch service to your customers -- or whether its lackadaisical attitude is preventing you from picking up new business. Perhaps it may have grown so large that a complacency sets in, and its management seemingly doesn’t even care if they retain your business.
That sounds a lot like what Bush Industries, a manufacturer of furniture for the office and for personal use, faced in dealing with its 3PL, which was charged with last-mile delivery and white-glove installation.
Bush makes ready-to-assemble furniture, and its commitment to its customers includes full assembly with some customization available on-site as well as removal of stickers, wipe-down of all pieces, and on-site, driver reordering of any damaged or incorrect product.
The problem was that Bush wasn’t getting the cooperation it needed from its service provider, says Jerry Green, executive vice president of operations of the Jamestown, N.Y.-based furniture company.
Admittedly, utilization of true office installers was both costly and slow, and its partner was either not willing or able to meet the high expectations of the Bush Industries customer commitment. Green suspected the former.
“They had simply grown complacent and weren’t willing to train people to the level that we needed,” he says. As Bush had grown and raised its service commitment levels, its provider declined to keep pace. The problem for the furniture manufacturer was that it was locked into a 10-year contract with the provider. With two years to go, Green says he began confronting the 3PL’s management with its shortcomings. Moreover, he said he would walk the business when the contract term expired.
Nothing seemed to faze the provider, Meanwhile, other providers began to solicit Bush’s business. By contrast, the eventual winner, NonstopDelivery, seemed eager for the relationship, not to mention highly capable.
With a high level of complexity for product assembly and additional requirements beyond the industry standard for white-glove service, Bush Industries and NonstopDelivery started a business relationship focused on providing consistent, nationwide white-glove service for an affordable price and within a reasonable transit time.
In fact, Bush continued to use multiple providers, but eventually NonstopDelivery assumed 95 percent or more of Bush’s white-glove business. The Chantilly, Va.-based provider used multiple methods of training materials, including videos, conference calls, work instructions, on-site visits, and other reference guides to prepare the last-mile terminal network for a zero-defect, staged onboarding of the business. With such a successful implementation, Bush Industries continued to increase the percentage of markets that NonstopDelivery serviced for them until NonstopDelivery became the manufacturer’s primary last-mile carrier.
Green says that NonstopDelivery has also ensured continuous improvement and service consistency. As new terminals are brought into the NonstopDelivery network, the Last-Mile Compliance Team reviews all Bush Industries training materials in-depth with the delivery teams and terminal management. The Bush Industries account is also highlighted on mandatory, quarterly, network-wide conference calls to remind all participants of the Bush requirements. Weekly meetings are held between Bush Industries and NonstopDelivery account management, customer service and logistics representatives to keep open communication flow on opportunities and trends as well as set assignments and progress goals within both companies to enhance the customer experience.
Communication is key, says Green. Delay in callbacks weren’t uncommon with Bush’s previous provider; occasionally, calls weren’t even returned. With NonstopDelivery, every level is responsive, from drivers to top management, Green says. Open communication and alignment of delivery strategies with Bush Industries’ company vision should continue to be the cornerstones of the relationship.
Green labels the easy communication between the partners “customer intimacy,” and it’s essential. “Most companies, you can't get to people who are in charge,” Green says. “At NonstopDelivery, you can get to anyone. This is important because you need to discuss things. With our previous provider, we had a problem with remotes, for instance – that’s anything more than 15 miles from the DC. We couldn’t get any satisfaction with the former 3PL because we couldn’t really discuss it, but NonstopDelivery helped us a lot by establishing more agents so we could ship direct to that guy. They also gave us a fair price on those deliveries.”
Asked to assess the results of the relationship, Green says that throughout the partnership, Bush Industries has set and measured goals that align with management’s business focus, and NonstopDelivery, Inc. has continued to develop strategies around service improvements within the areas that the provider can impact.
In particular, Bush Industries surveys all of their white-glove delivery recipients, measuring overall customer satisfaction with the service provided as well as ratings in the following categories: ease of scheduling, and driver product familiarity, professionalism and performance. Individual service requirements include assembly completion, removal of stickers, wipe-down of the product, product manual distribution to the customer, and if necessary, an on-site call to Bush.
NonstopDelivery has averaged a 97 percent overall satisfaction rating, and the individual performance metrics are used on a weekly basis as training opportunities for specific driver teams and to identify service trends for high- and low- performing terminals.
In addition to the Bush Industries service measurements, NonstopDelivery provides a monthly scorecard to track KPIs. The Defect-Free Ratio (shipments without a transportation service defect notation) is 97 percent, and NonstopDelivery’s OSD [over, short and damaged] for the account is less than 2 percent. The average last-mile transit time is 3.5 days with an average of .65 days from the order arriving to the NonstopDelivery terminal to the first call placed to the customer for scheduling.
Green is pleased with the relationship with NonstopDelivery, but when he looks back, he figures the rupture in relations with the former provider didn’t have to happen. “I told them their complacency was going to cause them to lose the business. But they were just non-responsive.”
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