After you place an order with a manufacturer, we all know you get the dreaded confirm back which salespeople never check. The order is released from the manufacturer and the product is shipped to you. On the truck, a piece of paper called the bill of lading documents everything the manufacturer loaded onto the truck.
The Bill of Lading is paperwork between your manufacturer and their carrier and is not a legal or binding document between you and the manufacturer.
The Correct Process
Once the truck arrives, you should refer back to your system of record for a document called a receiving document. This is just like your purchase orders except the receiving document contains no cost and it can be printed for the warehouse to use during the receiving process.
The receiving document is a complete list of all the pieces and parts you purchased from that vendor, and it is your proof of what you should be receiving.
The key to being accurate when receiving is to generate this receiving document directly from your purchase order so there are no mistakes. This eliminates oopsies your manufacturer might make when they key in your order into their system.
This is how you verify that you received what you ordered. Because the receiving document is generated from your purchase order, it’s easy to see if you were shipped something incorrectly. This is partly why using design software for ordering doesn’t work because it helps create environments with no controls later on down the road.
Welcome to the Kitchen and Bath Industry
But in our industry, some dealers take the bill of lading (your supplier’s paperwork that goes with the truck) and use that for the receiving.
Let’s reflect on this for a moment.
Imagine I’m a manufacturer and I make leisure suits (they’re back in fashion now in case you haven’t heard). They come in various colors, sizes and quality. You purchase a trailer load of 212 high-quality, maroon leisure suits, size 45L.
I receive your order and my customer service department keys this in as one trailer load of 221 (oops) high-quality, mango (darn auto-correct) leisure suits, size 54L (hey, I was in a hurry that day for personal reasons – sorry for the keying mistakes).
I send you a confirm and it just so happens that this one time you were too busy to check it. A few weeks later you receive the truck using my bill of lading and your warehouse staff thinks everything matches perfectly.
See the problem?
Weeks later you ship this stuff out to several job sites and your customers can’t figure out why the suits are the wrong color and don’t fit. Now you have to have a service order generated for another trip to the job site to tailor the suits back to 45L (I feel bad for the tailor).
That service call probably isn’t tracked back to the original job so you eat the extra service costs as “the cost of doing business”. Hey – did I mention that I look good for shipping accurately? I love customers who use my paperwork when receiving because it makes me look good.
Now imagine something a little less obvious. Let’s take cabinets for example, since they’re boxed. Except this time just mix up a glaze, door style or finish.
This Just Keeps Getting Worse
Of course, once you figure out the mistake, your team will be at the job site with a really upset customer. Can anyone say “rush”?
So not only did you get nailed on the original shipment, but you will be nailed again on the rush order. Heck you might even get nailed a third time or more before it’s over.
Score another point for yet-another-cabinet-industry-ridiculous-business-process.
How Do You Fix It?
It’s easy. Generate your own receiving documents which contain all the line items you need to properly receive what you ordered.
And if the truck contains the wrong products, deny it at the door – even if your confirmation says otherwise. That’s the beauty of having your own system of record.