It’s Not Business as Usual

It’s Not Business as Usual

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I’m going to be honest and blunt here: Nothing about 2020 has been “business as usual.” This post isn’t a pity party, nor is it a list of excuses. I’m going to be straight with you all, like I always am.

Shipping is a Mess

With folks preferring to order things online versus entering stores, all shippers are overloaded. Workers who are risking their own safety to deliver us everything under the sun are tired. Their trucks are at full capacity. Their coworkers are getting sick. What’s all this mean for you? Stuff is delayed. In a big, bad way.

Designers have zero control over how fast items are loaded onto trucks, how many stops trucks make, or how rough shippers are with our products. I’ve had multiple items arrive damaged. I’ve had items stuck in distribution facilities for weeks. I can follow up and be a squeaky wheel – which trust me, I am – but otherwise, there’s nothing else we can do but be patient and wait. Because it’s not business as usual.

Inventory Levels Aren’t Accurate

Sometimes when a vendor’s website says something’s in stock, it’s not. I check with my brand reps. I double-check supposedly real-time inventory systems before ordering items. And yet still, I’ve had several instances where items that were CLEARLY available and not even low stock have then subsequently been backordered…sometimes for months. Why is this happening? Reduced workers. With less staff, there are less people to update inventory systems. Things get missed – it’s inevitable when you reduce staff without reducing the workload..because it’s not business as usual.

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I don’t have a visual example of low inventory, so here’s a pretty bedroom!!

Backordered Items Have No Clear Timeline for Delivery

If you think domestic shipping is unreliable, multiply that by a thousand for shipments coming from overseas. I’m not just talking about cheap stuff – I’m talking about fine fabrics from Italy, antiques from France, and carved tables from Spain. Everything is delayed. Manufacturers are operating at lower capacity. Customs is operating at lower capacity. And then of course America’s shippers are overworked, with everyone purchasing things online these days.

Pre-2020, backorder dates were honestly quite accurate. Now, however, something expected to arrive in 5 days could arrive in 5 months. Or not arrive at all. Which is why I try never to order anything that’s backordered. It’s also why I highly encourage American-made and custom products.

American products are at least already in the country, plus they’re amazing quality. And in most cases, I can interface directly with the factories to check on progress. Custom products are also great because custom items cannot be backordered. They’re created for you from scratch when I submit an order. Hence, we’re not waiting for a pre-made item that may or may not arrive. So if I’m more picky about what vendors I’m using for a project right now, it’s because it’s not business as usual.

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We waited 6 months for this gorgeous shagreen and walnut credenza. Worth. It.

Businesses Can’t Run at Capacity

Due to social distancing restrictions in a lot of factories and workrooms, manufacturers have to limit the number of employees able to work at one time. Unlike traditional office workers who can take their work home with them, furniture makers aren’t lugging home sofa frames to continue to work on their “remote days.” Not a thing.

So what does that mean for you? Much longer custom product lead times. Pre-2020, my favorite custom manufacturers could complete a sofa or headboard in 4 to 6 weeks. Now, many manufacturers’ lead times are 10 to 12 weeks or more. Custom products are built in the order in which they’re received. There’s no “skipping the line.” That wouldn’t be fair to the other customers who are waiting for their custom items. Patience is the name of the game these days. Because it’s not business as usual.

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This sofa and ottoman took 6 weeks to create. The manufacturer is running at limited capacity now and the same items are taking 8 to 10 weeks to be created. Totally worth the wait for quality pieces that you’ll have for decades!

Emotions are Running High

The world is stressed. Literally everyone in the world is dealing with this pandemic at the same time. Although all of us are in the same storm, we’re not all in the same boat. Some of us are fortunate enough to still have our jobs. Some of us can afford extra childcare for our children so we can continue to work regular hours. Others have experienced job loss in their family and are struggling to pay bills. And of course, over 800,000 families and counting have lost loved ones to this nefarious virus.

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Home is now our sanctuary from the uncertain world around us.

It’s easy to take out our frustration and anger on others. Projection is a coping mechanism for a reason. But the reality is, we have to be in this together, and what’s needed now more than ever is compassion, understanding, and patience. As the World’s Least Patient Person, this is a hard pill for me to swallow, but I’ve had to learn that lots of what’s happening now is out of my control.

Putzier Eclectic Interiors Final Dec 5 2019 058
It’s ok to spend a little more time in bed these days. Really. I work from my bed almost every morning. Smart phones are great!

The only thing I CAN control is my communication with my clients, which will continue to be open, honest, and as timely as possible. We’ll get your project done, and it’ll be beautiful. Will it take longer than usual? Yes. Will there likely be some more issues than usual? Also yes – but that’s why I’m here. I’ll handle the vendor issues for you. All I ask is patience in return as we sort everything out.

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It’ll get done, and it’ll be beautiful! Promise.
Comments (16 )
  • Leslie Carothers
    | 29 August 2020

    Thank you for your honesty in sharing what’s going on right now, Lindsey.

    We are truly living through, all of us, a time that’s never before happened and our industry’s manufacturers are trying to do their very best, but are being hampered, as you so beautifully explain, by staff shortages + logistical challenges. T

    Just as you are not, they are not in charge of the shipping, either, so even if everything is completed on time at the factory, the shipping is still a challenge and the trucking industry is equally as overwhelmed, as you’ve pointed out.

    Brava for a post that communicates so honestly and asks everyone for patience.

    • lindsey
      | 29 August 2020

      Thank you, Leslie – that was my goal writing this post. It really is an unprecedented time right now.

  • Janet Lorusso
    | 29 August 2020

    This is such an excellent explanation of WHY it is not business as usual right now, Lindsey! There is so much disruption at a time when so many need home to be the beautiful and safe haven it is meant to be…we are all learning a lesson in patience in this extended time-out

    • lindsey
      | 29 August 2020

      We sure are, Janet!!

  • Ann Porter {KitchAnn}
    | 29 August 2020

    These days Calm and Clear Communication is a super power.
    I just experienced most of what you talked about – reduced manufacturing capacity, websites with wrong information, items waiting to clear the warehouse and shippers who are impossible. I was apologizing so much with my updates to the client it really started to affect me. In the end they knew I was staying on top of the matter and I’m thankful they were understanding. Great Post!

    • lindsey
      | 29 August 2020

      Right?!?! It does make a huge difference.

  • Lisa Peck
    | 29 August 2020

    It’s so true that things are taking longer and for many reasons. I appreciate your straight forward explanation.

    • lindsey
      | 29 August 2020

      Most definitely. You’re welcome!

  • LINDA MERRILL
    | 29 August 2020

    Lindsey – This. All of this. Patience and communication is the key because it’s rough out there!

    • lindsey
      | 29 August 2020

      It sure is, Linda!

  • Mary Ann Benoit
    | 29 August 2020

    Great information on what is going on behind the scenes for all the parts of the process that most clients never think about happening so they can have a beautiful house. Thanks for sharing this.

    • lindsey
      | 29 August 2020

      You’re welcome, Mary Ann!

  • Suzi Rugg
    | 31 August 2020

    Such a clear way to explain all of this! Thank you for taking the time to help everyone understand!

    • lindsey
      | 31 August 2020

      You’re welcome, Suzi!

  • Wendi Gee
    | 1 September 2020

    Such a great post. I may just point my clients to your website! Even just getting samples is sometimes taking forever!

    • lindsey
      | 2 September 2020

      Thank you, Wendi! Feel free to share my post with your clients 🙂

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