Shipping - How We've Nearly Eliminated Breakage April 17 2014, 0 Comments
Breakage is something we strive to eliminate at all costs, but unfortunately it's inevitable that we do have a small number of things break in transit. We are just as disappointed as our customers when it happens, but how we deal with it is another testament to our top notch customer service. First let's take a look at some shipping history...way back to the beginning of Acoustic Remedy. Then we will discuss how we have less than a 1% breakage rate year after year.
OUR SHIPPING WOES:
When we started this company, Ryan and I were making each and every case in our workshop. We then moved onto the daunting task of how to package up the cases that took us WAY too long to build, knowing all along that we might receive that call/email from the customer stating it had broke and all our efforts were for naught. We used high density polyethylene styrofoam and cut each piece on the table saw to the exact dimensions needed for the box. This was yet another labor intensive process that left us looking like 80 year old men from all the styrofoam 'dust' that was produced. Once we got the styrofoam into the box we would carefully place the case in, seal it up, and send it via UPS. After several disappointed customers received a cracked door, or in the worst case we ever saw the entire side piece was broke, we decided it was time for a change.
HOW WE ADAPTED AND OVERCAME:
Our solutions came in a three pronged approach: new foam packaging material, new boxes, and a new shipping company. Without one of these links, we wouldn't have progressed to our current shipping/handling system that seems to be working almost flawlessly.
New Foam - We contacted a foam fabricator in Minnesota that specialized in creating custom packaging solutions for a wide range of companies. A sales rep took the time to drive to our workshop, take some measurements, and come up with a sample. After his years of experience in the industry, he suggested a method that's used by a fireplace manufacturer he services. And quite frankly I see it pop up all the time now that I'm looking for it - TVs, electronics, glass products, etc. The idea is that if you float the fragile item inside the box by using two end caps, the breakage rate drops drastically. On top of that, he introduced a new type of foam called polystyrene, which is squishy instead of the more rigid type we were using. His estimate was that if we switched to the new end caps, we would see our rate of about 1 in 10 having some breakage to below 1%!! That's a ten-fold decrease in issues and we are happy to report he was 100% correct. Here's a picture of what the end caps look like and also a packaged case ready for delivery.
New Boxes - At the same time we were discovering the new foam end caps, we needed to reevaluate our boxes. Each box is rated for a edge crush strength and ranges drastically. Since the end caps required a longer box, we decided it was time to up the ante and get the strongest boxes we could find. We enlisted the help of a corrugated box manufacturer who was able to provide a 375 pound edge crush strength box with the correct lengths/widths/heights. These boxes certainly hold up the rigors of shipping and have successfully provided the next layer of protection for our cases during transit to our customers.
New Shipping Company - Another interesting shift we made was to move from using UPS to FedEx and the results have been remarkable. When we started with UPS we were told that our cases needed to 'survive' a six foot fall from a conveyor belt and needed to be surrounded by 2" of foam on every interior surface. So we said to hell with that and switched over to FedEx. They have shown have a different philosophy on business and treat each package with the respect it deserves. We know our driver by name and he even comes directly to our shop to pick up the cases. First class customer service!
With these three major developments we are happy to report that last year we had only two doors break on a customer's case and that's because it was a custom size which required alterations to our foam packaging and this compromised the strength/protection. We have shipped these cases to all corners of the USA and internationally as well, so it's a great testament to how things have progressed.
HOW WE PROVIDE SOLUTIONS IF PROBLEMS ARISE:
Here's the information that brings it full circle. If you have something break in transit we replace the item free of charge, no questions asked! It's what we would expect if we ordered an expensive item and it's what we provide to our customers. Nine times out of ten we have the exact case in stock and can send a replacement immediately....however, occasionally we may need to have a replacement built. Either way, we effectively communicate with our customers so they're not left wondering what the timeline is or if they are stuck with a damaged item.
Things break and that's the unfortunate reality, but how it's dealt with is the true test of how a company treats its customers. We hope you found this blog post informative and reassuring that Acoustic Remedy Cases is a customer focused small business in every possible way. It's a philosophy we stand behind and can hopefully demonstrate to new customers or reaffirm with existing ones over the course of this year and many years to come.
Feel free to comment on your shipping experience with Acoustic Remedy Cases or ask any questions.