In today’s world it is expected that when an order is placed, stock is at hand for immediate shipment. The two-day delivery has become the norm for many parts orders in the USA. And, if the parts warehouse is on the east coast shipping to the west coast, then, many times a two-day delivery service is called upon.
But remember, this was not always the case. In my almost 45 years of service, I can recall when there were two ways orders could be placed with a parts company. The most popular were to mail purchase orders to the parts company and the other was to call-in an order to the parts company by telephone. When you received an order by phone it was a rush order. Rush orders still took usually one week to 10 days for delivery. Can you imagine one week to 10 days was a normal delivery for parts? There were many reasons for this one since there were no easy ways to ship parts fast. If the order was a rush, I remember taking parts to the airport and shipping via Delta Airlines Air Cargo. This was extremely expensive. One of my cost effective ways to ship rush orders were by Greyhound Bus. I used to be over at the bus station at least once a day shipping a “rush” parts order. Keep in mind, this whole process is when the customer knew the part numbers and what he needed. Can you now imagine, if the customer didn’t have a parts manual. Now you had to make copies on the copier and send him/her hard copies via the mail or mail the whole book. Remember, this is even before the fax machine. Remember, we had the mail and the telephone. Back then, it was a challenge just to communicate and customers would test you every day. In those days, it was very stressful to listen to the problems without a quick response because there were no quick responses. My delivery of parts were typically 5-7 days after receipt of the order and at that time in history it was very competitive. Back then, orders had to be more exact, because of the time it took, there was no time for error. If wrong parts were ordered or delivered, then that would create a big problem. It wasn’t unusual to see equipment down for a month. And the OEM’s were the worst offenders for parts delivery. Many were so complacent and arrogant, the aftermarket parts sold themselves. It was normal for many of the OEM’s to ship your order in 7-10 days. Can you imagine if that happened toda ? The industrial business some 35 years was so massive in the United States, the OEM’s didn’t seemed to care if you bought parts from them or not.
They figured that there was plenty of business out there with other companies if you didn’t want to buy. And they charged outrageous prices too. I saw some dealers charging 20 or 25% over list for the parts at that time.
In the late 1980’s something changed the ordering process forever. That was the fax machine. The fax machine overnight changed how communications were conducted. Not long after, UPS started offering a NDA service and our lives were forever changed.
Customers could now place orders via fax and order it UPS/NDA. Also, you could send parts pages to your customer via fax if he/she didn’t have a parts manual for their equipment which cut a week off ordering parts. The fax changed everything. With that being said, today we have many, many ways to communicate. But one thing hasn’t changed, stock is still crucial to the fundamental way of doing business. Normal down time for equipment has been cut from 1-2 weeks some 35 years ago to just one to two days. If you really need it up and running, then there is same day delivery offered by UPS in some areas.
With me still involved supplying replacement parts, we can ship same day and pull parts from some eight warehouses. We can cover 92% of the US market with one day ground service so things have changed quite a bit. But I still say “Stock is crucial!”
Creamer’s Corner is a monthly conversation with Hi-Gear’s Mike Creamer giving you advise, technical assistance, brand comparisons and on the job stories on repairing, maintaining or replacing your sweeper/scrubber. For your comments or questions, please e-mail Mike at email@example.com.