Volume 42, Issue 7 - July 2007

Buyer’s Block
Saving a Buck or Two
Ideas for Reducing Transportation Costs
by Paul Bieber 

Saving money is easier than you think—just bully your supplier and you will get a discount once, maybe twice. Then that wonderful rule of life will apply: what goes around comes around. You soon find out that, just as you need to make a profit, so too does your supplier. When you both make money, though, everyone keeps coming back for more. Here are a few tips.

Have a Delivery Schedule 
One of the best ways to control or cut costs is to manage your incoming glass efficiently. Even if your vendor is paying the freight, you are still covering this somewhere in the costs paid. Obviously, receiving five deliveries each week costs more than three deliveries. Delivery charges aside, each one also means extra paperwork and invoices from the vendor and extra interruptions of your day to check received goods and sign delivery receipts. To simplify the delivery process, why not create a delivery schedule? Ask some vendors to deliver on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, some in the mornings and some in the afternoons. Have others deliver on Tuesday and Thursday. With a pattern like this, you will know when you need to have someone in the shop. If your vendor charges a delivery fee, try and negotiate it based on volume and ease of delivery. Most companies have different charge levels. You may not get to zero, but try to go down one level in cost. Also, don’t ever pay delivery charges on back-orders or breakage replacements. If you receive goods via common carriers, most give discounts to repeat users, so specify the carrier you want used on your purchase orders. Most trucking companies will give you baseball tickets; tell them that a 40-percent discount is better.

Packaging Options
Shipping and packaging materials can also be expensive. Wooden crates, for example, cost a ton. Why? There is the cost of the wood, the labor to build the crate, the labor to handle and open it, and the big, hidden cost—disposal of the wood. A few shops burn their wood for winter heat, but the labor cost to break up the crates and take out the nails and any foam protectors usually costs more than the value of the heat gained. If you leave your wood behind your building in hopes people will take it, you could have a legal problem. For example, someone taking the wood might step on a nail or hurt himself with a saw. Putting up a sign that reads, “take at your own risk,” means nothing. You have just created an “attractive nuisance” and would still be liable. Check with your insurance advisor on this one. 

Instead of wood, ask that your shop and job-site shipments come on returnable racks. These racks will save you about $100 per wooden case you would have ordered. Moreover, they nest when empty so the amount of storage space needed, especially at job sites, is only the footprint of one or two racks. Racks have plastic shrink-wrap, cardboard corners and steel or nylon strapping, and will require a forklift or a job-site lull for moving. When you know your unloading schedule, call your vendor and set a pick-up date for the racks. If the racks are not returned, plan on a charge from the vendor. Racks save you and your fabricator money, which is a big win-win.

Take Time for Inspection
Receiving scratched or damaged glass is a cost for you. Inspect glass before the driver leaves your building or have a 24-hour inspection period with your vendor. If you have a defective product ask the vendor to take it back. After all, your dumpsters cost you money. Also, make sure your vendors protect important glass, such as shower doors, bevels and coated products. Foam or cork buttons may be a pain for you to clean, but it’s far better than having a scratched lite. 

the author: Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including nine years with C.R. Laurence Co. Inc., and 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y. Bieber retired from Floral Glass in 2005. Mr. Bieber’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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