Most of the hotels you work on are not in Dallas, TX which is where Quiltcraft is located, or Marietta, GA where Marietta Drapery is located, or the greater Boston, MA area where Contract Décor International is located. The idea is, at some point the product in the factories of the drapery manufacturer must be shipped to a different location for installation. Of course, I’m talking about Freight here. It is a vital part of the overall puzzle and therefore something that all parties should have at least a basic understanding of.
So how does a drape and its hardware make it from the factory to your hotel? That’s the basic question and here is the basic explanation…
When a product is ready to be shipped, a freight company comes to the drapery manufacturer’s dock and picks up the package, pallet, or pallets and takes these items to a shipping terminal. At the shipping terminal, the shipment is unloaded alongside thousands of others and reorganized to be sent out into the correct destination. The shipment, depending on the distance it is going, then is moved from shipping terminal to terminal on 18-wheelers as it nears its destination. Once it arrives at the terminal nearest to it’s delivery location, it will be placed on a delivery truck and sent out for delivery at your hotel.
Now why is this important to know?
For two distinct reasons. First, so that we can all understand that freight is a much more complicated piece of the puzzle than simply watching a shipment be loaded on a truck and it popping up in the parking lot of a hotel several days later. The web of terminal’s, shipping routes, trucks and personnel crisscrossing the nation at any given time is immense and truly astounding. The second reason is to clarify that this works the same way no matter what option you choose for who is moving your product.
Who moves your Freight?
Is it one of those brand names slapped on the side of an 18-wheeler, such as Old Dominion, Schneider, FedEx, or someone else? It could in fact be any of those, but the brand name is secondary and honestly not extremely important. What we are speaking of is who handles the logistics of moving your freight? Who is making sure that you get the best rate? Who is tracking the shipment to ensure that it arrives at the right place at the right time? These types of companies are Logistic companies and almost anyone who ships as much product as a manufacturer uses one. Here is where the choice comes into play, and the choice is completely in your control. So... choose?
So let’s explain those terms, essentially they are both speaking of a logistics company but ‘Third Party’ means that you, as the purchasing agent or owner, have a Logistics company that you work with or are choosing to set one up and you will pay that company to move your product from our factory to your hotel. Best Way means that you are choosing for us, the drapery manufacturer, to move your product the ‘Best’ way we can, which behind the scenes means we let our contracted 3rd party choose the best freight rate for each and every shipment.
So, if they are both technically 3rd parties, why does this matter? Well let’s talk about the differences beyond who is in control.
With Third Party, you are in control of the product as it is your customer the 3rd party logistics company that is moving the freight. This means that as soon as that product leaves the manufacturers dock it is under scope of responsibility, until it arrives at the site and our installers sign for it. The pro’s of 3rd party freight is that you may be able to exert some extra control on the prices of freight (the 3rd party company negotiates rates with the actual freight/trucking companies), and if you are moving a lot of product for multiple properties this may definitely be the way to go. The cons though are again that it is your responsibility while on the truck, so if it’s late, if it’s damaged, if you need to make a claim, all of that falls into your court to deal with.
As we mentioned previously, it works the same way, except that we as the manufacturer are most likely using a logistics company (our 3rd party) and so we are negotiating pricing with them and discussing best practices for our product. The pros are that we are in control and have the responsibility of the product thru the entire life cycle of PO to completed installation, there is never a transfer of responsibility. For all the points mentioned above being in your control, they are in our control. If product is late to the site, if it is damaged, we work directly with the freight company to make the claim and to reproduce the product and have it shipped out. Really, the only potential con is that usually with ‘Best Way’ Freight comes ‘Pre-pay and Add’ which means that you will not know the total cost of freight until after the shipment is completed. Drapery manufacturers should always be able to give you an estimate and may even include an upfront cost in the quote, but if the freight changes over the course of the job (which it usually does, remember freight is not only a science it’s very much an art as far as price fluctuation) you will only see the total change once everything has been delivered.
The final comparison, and possibly the most important, unfortunately is unanswerable, price. The reason being that there are simply too many factors to consider at any given time. Freight is based upon a combination of distance traveled, weight, size, freight class and delivery time and these are also all based upon the complex logistics involved in moving freight on a given date. What we can say is with 3rd party freight you may be able to exert a bit more control on freight costs but is more beneficial when you as a company are moving a large amount of product in multiple different directions. Best Way places all of the burden on the drapery manufacturer and could easily be considered the more hands free, simplistic option.
Whichever you choose, remember freight is challenging and although immense in its intricacies, the right decision is never any further away than learning about it. We hope this post is beneficial to you and serves you well as you consider the all-important piece of the puzzle: FREIGHT!