Something miraculous happens when we allow outside help into our small business. We can fully focus on the aspects of business that we love while those not so great or less desirable tasks are taken care of elsewhere. When you operate as a manager as opposed to being a jack of all trades, your business will flourish. It will will feel more like a business and less like a never ending series of daily tasks. One of the last places most independent designers turn for help is with a receiver. Whenever I ask a client why they aren’t using a receiver it’s almost always because they don’t understand how it works. Let’s talk about how it works.
OPTIONS FOR RECEIVING CLIENT PRODUCTS
Maybe you currently don’t purchase furniture on behalf of your client but you’d like to start. The sourcing and purchasing are not unfamiliar but what happens as the orders start to roll in. You have 3 options:
You can receive them at your office.
This works well if the items are small decor and artwork. Where will you store a sectional, dining table or an entire household full of furniture? I don’t know any designers who can store that amount of product in their office space. This doesn’t even factor in the truck that will arrive at your office requiring a loading dock to unload.
Most designers are not insured for storing client products. Even if you have a garage large enough to hold your client’s furniture there are unforeseen circumstances that could leave you on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars. For instance, a weather event that damages the roof of your garage and leaves water damage. If your business insurance doesn’t cover that damage you could create enormous issues for your business.
You can have the client receive them.
You may currently be operating using this model but there are flaws with it. You’ll likely be sourcing from multiple sources so the orders will be coming in frequently as opposed to one single delivery.
The biggest obstacle with this model is that manufacturers almost never allow residential deliveries. They use large transport trucks for deliveries and without a loading dock or staff to assist, this is not a reasonable option.
If you’re purchasing retail versus trade-only manufacturers you may be given the option of delivery to your client’s home. This requires your client to be home for every delivery which is not possible for clients who work full-time.
The other drawback is that unless you’ve arranged for white glove delivery, the items will be curbside delivery. That means you could have your client receiving large furniture orders that need to be taken from the curb or driveway into the house.
You can hire a receiver.
WHAT IS A RECEIVER?
A receiver or a receiving warehouse is a storage facility that accepts deliveries on your behalf. They inspect each piece as it arrives and they store all your items until you’re ready to receive them.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A RECEIVER?
1/ There is only one delivery to your client (and a grand reveal)
A receiver will store everything in their warehouse until the order is complete. Once all the pieces have arrived you can arrange a single delivery date. If you love the idea of a single installation day with a grand reveal, the only way to make that happen is through a receiver.
2/ Your receiver takes care of inspection upon delivery
As each item arrives at your receiver warehouse it will be fully inspected. If there is damage or missing items you’ll be contacted. Your receiver will spell out your options based on the damage. For instance, not every damaged item needs to be completely replaced. Your receiver will let you know if the product requires a simple repair or needs complete replacement.
They’ll provide you with photos of the damage along with a report outlining the damage. Most furniture suppliers require notification of damage to happen very soon after receiving the items. Having a receiver helps identify the problems and moves this process along as quickly as possible.
3/ They’re fully insured
All reputable receivers are fully insured but it’s up to you to ask that question when you interview them. There will always be unscrupulous players who try to get by without insurance so it’s up to you to ask the question. If there is any damage in the warehouse that affects your client’s order the receiver and their insurer will cover you for the damages.
4/ They provide white glove delivery to your client
That means they arrive at your client’s home with the full order intact. Each item is placed in its correct location and all packaging is removed at the end of delivery. This happens quickly and easily because it’s what they do all day, everyday.
How Do You Bill for A Receiver?
When you prepare your initial Proposal for your client you should create a line item for this cost. At this point it will be an estimate. Once you become more experienced using a receiver you’ll get better at estimating the cost. You can revise that estimate as you move forward and receive more information.
Once the receiver has all the information regarding the items they’re receiving, they’ll provide you with an estimate which may be closer to the actual amount than your estimate. Since there are so many variables that affect delivery charges, it’s only after the final delivery that the true cost is known. Hopefully your estimate is close to the final charge but regardless, your client is fully responsible for those fees.
How Do You Find a Receiver?
The easiest way is to speak to other designers in your area about which receiver they use. Having great recommendations saves you the hassle of searching. If you’re not well connected in the community you can start by googling local receiving warehouses and arranging for a phone call or walk through of the facility.
Once you get a great receiver on your team, your business will feel like a well oiled machine. This will free up a ton of your office time and allow you to focus on design and not administrative tasks that you don’t like. It also makes for a much more seamless experience for your client.