How Long Are These Supply Delays Going to Last?
That question is the one EVERYONE wants an answer to! Our clients are driving us crazy with questions about their furnishings, and we're stuck in the middle. Even our vendors don't have all the answers. Things change daily with shipping containers, plant closures, truck shortages and more. So when will we see ANY light at the end of the tunnel? Here are some best guesses and how to handle the disruptions
Vendors that I'm talking to are saying there won't be any normalcy (whatever that is) until AT LEAST summer 2022. No, that isn't the answer I want either. But the most important thing I'm hearing is that it's going to get worse before it gets better. As in Christmas is going to definitely be impacted. And that's for ALLLL goods, not just furnishings!! It's a good year to shop local and be very very flexible, whether you're looking for items to fill your client's home or your family's stockings. The scariest of predictions is that everything will be in short supply, with predictions of high gas prices and even more expensive groceries. UGH.
In the spring, there will probably be a loosening in the supply chain for some goods, like upholstery. Why? Foam shortages should be addressed at that point🤞, and gas prices are predicted to drop by then (which of course impacts the cost of foam). But it will take a long time to get all of the container issues and truck driver shortages under control. The most important thing you can do is to prepare your clients to be patient. Remind them that the quality goods are worth waiting for, and that all retailers are having the same issues that we are. Even the online retailers. And you need to be in constant communication with your vendors and workrooms. Consider talking to a CSR instead of just your sales rep. They often have more inside knowledge of what's going on. That way you can give the right info to your clients.
As I said before, most vendors are telling me that the logjam should be unstuck by next summer. Yes, that's a LONG time to wait. And it isn't going to be what most of our clients are going to want to hear. So you need to be savvy about how you work the system. First of all, don't necessarily order the NEW things you see at the October High Point Market. Ask what's in stock already - all of your vendors have products that are in warehouses. They just aren't brand new, so we've all forgotten about them. Check quick-ship programs and inventories to see what you can get sooner that will work. OR start designing custom pieces that your clients will love and that will be ready LONG before next summer. You'll make better margins on those products, too.
The Long Game
Heads up - the longest game in town might be performance fabrics and that's REALLY going to impact outdoor furniture. One fabric company I know (a big one) is setting delivery dates a full YEAR from the order date. Ouch. So you know that's going to hit the outdoor market. If you've got a client who you know will need outdoor furniture, order NOW to try to beat that rush that's bearing down on us.
Just like almost EVERYTHING in our business, successful navigation is going to come down to communication. To help you with that, check out my NEW Client Communication Templates. They're designed to help you communicate those essential details and deadlines clearly and concisely!