Does this sound familiar? Your family room, which you have been using extensively as of late, is beginning to show signs of wear. That 10-year-old sofa started sinking ages ago and is now on its last legs. Your chairs aren’t quite big enough for your rapidly growing kids. Maybe you have realized the layout isn’t functional or the colour palette feels tired and dated.
If any of this sounds familiar, you are one of the hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of people who have become dissatisfied with their home in the last few years. And so many of you have decided that now is the time to do something about it.
As we all know, when demand goes up, so do prices and wait times. Under normal circumstances, suppliers gear up to meet the increased demand. However, in these unprecedented times, it is not that simple… which brings us to the new normal… higher prices and painfully long delays.
Whether you have started a project and are (still) waiting for goods to arrive or you haven’t started a project yet, today I’m sharing an inside look at how the supply chain has been affected by the pandemic and other events, what you can expect, and how we can help you deal with this frustrating situation.
What’s Happening at Each of the 3 Stages of the Supply Chain
First, let’s look at what’s happening behind the scenes at each of the 3 stages of the supply chain: resources, production, and transportation.
1. High demand has caused material shortages.
What happens when households all over North America (and beyond) all want the same things? You have increased competition for a finite amount of resources. Because of this, we’re seeing industry-wide shortages for materials like lumber, foam, fabric, and metal, all of which are used to make home furnishings.
2. A whole host of factors have slowed production.
In addition to having a decreased supply of materials to work with, we’re seeing an unavoidable bottleneck at the production facilities themselves. Pandemic protocols (for social distancing, testing, and decreased overall capacity) have resulted in staff reductions. For facilities that are back up to full capacity, there is also a shortage of skilled labour to fill the increased demand. It’s not surprising that the combination of reduced capacity, a skilled labour shortage, an extreme increase in the volume of orders, and fewer materials has resulted in massive production delays.
3. Transportation issues have slowed the movement of materials and goods.
At the tail end of the supply chain, we have the transportation industry, and they are feeling the strain, too. Ports are so backed up that many carriers float on the ocean for days, sometimes weeks, unable to dock and unload their goods. This also means that the shipping containers are tied up and can’t be reloaded right away. In addition to not being able to unload their hauls in a timely manner, truck drivers are also in short supply. And now, with the recent flooding and damage to our highway infrastructure, Vancouver’s lower mainland is temporarily cut off from the rest of Canada.
I know, it sounds like a lot of doom and gloom. But on the bright side… we are here to help you navigate these challenges.
How We Navigate these Challenges for You
Considering all of these supply chain issues, it seems like a miracle that any of our clients’ furnishings are being delivered at all! I can assure you that they are. We have successfully completed several projects over the course of the pandemic and there’s a good reason why…
1. Insider knowledge helps us make smart decisions.
While I’m unable to speed up the supply chain, knowledge is power. We constantly stay informed on changing lead times, and we have direct access to the production facilities themselves through our trusted vendors. This means that we can strategically select materials and items for your project, favouring those that are most likely to arrive in a timely manner.
2. Long-term relationships mean more access to information.
I am passionate about building relationships, especially with our clients, vendors, and industry partners. In times like these, our long-term commitment to our suppliers and vendors means they know that when things return to normal we’ll still be there supporting their businesses, so they go out of their way to help us — and by extension, to help you. As such, we are the “first to know” when there are delays or other issues, and that helps us keep you informed.
3. We take on the stress and management for you.
The last two years have taught us that situations can and will change rapidly. Dealing with these constant changes requires patience, stress management, calm decision-making, and the ability to adapt. When you trust us to manage your project, you don’t have to weather these stressful situations yourself. We do it for you. If we need to reselect an item or change course, we will guide you to a solution. When the inevitable problems arise, we deal with them strategically and efficiently, while keeping you informed. You are in good hands.
4. We have altered our process to suit the “new normal”.
Adaptability is key in these challenging times and, as a small owner-run company, we can pivot quickly to improve our project outcomes and client experience. In order to mitigate the downtime for our clients during a renovation project, we have altered our process to account for longer or unpredictable lead times.
While we used to place orders 2 to 3 weeks prior to demolition, we now order all materials and products in advance and work to establish firm lead times before scheduling your project start date. This may delay the start of your project; however, it helps minimize any downtime spent waiting for necessary materials and keeps your project moving. After all, how frustrating is it to watch your kitchen sit empty for weeks, not knowing when the cabinets or countertop will arrive, the take-out containers continuing to pile up?
Don’t get me wrong, this by no means eliminates supply chain issues. It is just one more thing we can do to reduce your discomfort and improve your overall experience.
5. There is no “if”.
Our greatest value lies in the fact that you will have the most qualified experts possible overseeing your project from start to finish. There is no question of “if” we’ll deliver exceptional results. We will unequivocally do so, all the while providing exceptional customer service. Knowing that we always reach the desired destination is why our clients come to us under normal circumstances. These days that is truer than ever!
If you have been disappointed or discouraged by long lead times, I hope these insights have given you the encouragement you need to continue striving toward your home goals. You and your family deserve a home that is comfortable, stylish and functional, in good times and especially in these times.
If you’re looking for support with your next home décor project, we’d love to help you. Reach out to us here, and let’s see if we’re the right fit.