Preparing for Delivery
You ordered a new piece of kitchen equipment—now what? Understanding shipping costs and timing, and how to avoid freight damage, will ready you for a successful delivery.
When you need a new piece of kitchen equipment or some other item for your operation, usually it’s a replacement item, and something you need quickly. You want it shipped in the most cost- and time-efficient manner possible, have it arrive safely in undamaged condition, and put it to use as soon as you can.
That’s why it’s so important to understand the shipping and delivery process, and both Central Restaurant Products’ and your role. Though our customer service representatives are always here to help, knowing how to properly receive and inspect product shipments and what to do if orders are incorrect or items are damaged will make your life much easier in the long run.
“The three biggest issues customers raise regarding shipping are price, damage, and timeliness,” says Brad DiRuzza, Sales Manager for Central. Understanding the factors that affect each, what Central’s policies are, and what your responsibilities are as the customer can go a long way toward resolving potential problems.
Understanding Shipping Costs
To understand freight or shipping costs, it helps to understand how products get to your back door. More than two-thirds of Central’s business is in replacement equipment. We carry millions of dollars in inventory, with more than 10,000 SKUs, including large, hard-to-get equipment others don’t carry like tilt skillets. And we excel at quickly getting you the items you need to operate your business smoothly. We even have a West Coast warehouse to expedite shipments to customers there.
“We have a strong local presence,” says Sam Rairden, Shipping Specialist for Central, “so we offer custom pricing for local deliveries on orders coming out of our Indianapolis warehouse on one of our own trucks. If we’re shipping out of the area, we use freight carriers.”
We ship many of the items we stock for free. Like all companies, however, we add a shipping fee to some orders, and do everything we can to make those fees as little as possible. Freight companies we use range from UPS and FedEx Ground to any of a number of other common carriers. Central negotiates contracts with these carriers to get lower rates based on volume, and those savings are passed on to you.
We base our shipping charges to you on the number of packages, the weight of those packages, the size or volume of the packages, and your delivery location. We do our best to package your order in the fewest number of boxes necessary, and send it via the least expensive carrier, unless you tell us otherwise. Most, but not all, manufacturers also negotiate with common carriers and follow a similar shipping policy.
Shipping v. Delivery
Something many customers don’t realize is shipping and delivery are not the same thing – shipping gets the product to your location, while delivery puts the product in a place. The cost of shipping product usually doesn’t include other charges, such as inside delivery, placement, or installation, especially for large items like kitchen equipment.
Once the shipper drops the product where you’ve specified in advance you want it, it’s your job to unpack it and put it in place. And unless you contract and pay for installation, that’s not the shipper’s job, either.
If the item you order isn’t small enough for a driver to take out of the truck and set down by your back door, it may cost you a small extra charge to deliver that item, depending on the circumstances. For example, if you don’t have a loading dock, the delivery truck will need a hydraulic liftgate to off-load a large item like a range somewhere near your door. Central, or the vendor shipping the range, may charge a fee for that lift-gate service.
If you want the range unpacked and moved inside your kitchen, that will require additional equipment like a pallet jack or dolly, and time from the driver, which in most cases also will incur a delivery charge. Common delivery charges include:
- Liftgate service (for delivery of larger items to destinations that don’t have a loading dock)
- Inside delivery (meaning the driver will place the item inside the main entrance)
- Residential surcharges (supports shipments to residential locations)
- White–glove service (including inside delivery, product placement and removal of packaging)
- Installation service (a full install of equipment purchase)
At Central, we inspect all products before they’re shipped, as do the vendors we work with. If products stop and get offloaded anywhere along the route—such as transferring an order from a semi-trailer to a local delivery truck at a shipper’s local warehouse—they’re inspected again before being loaded.
While we do everything we can to prevent issues, products can get damaged en route. Carriers who deliver merchandise are responsible for damages or lost items. Once you sign for and accept a delivery, you’re acknowledging that the merchandise arrived properly packed and in good condition. In other words, it’s now yours and the carrier’s liability is limited unless you act quickly. We’ll talk more about this under Concealed Damage below.
You have the right to inspect shipments and should have a policy in place to check all orders for damage and make sure they’re complete. If the exterior packaging is damaged or your order is incomplete, you should refuse the shipment. The carrier is obligated to return it to the manufacturer. Call your Central Product Consultant, and we’ll help get a replacement order sent as quickly as possible.
If the exterior packaging doesn’t reveal any damage, but damage to the product is evident once the package is open, you can still hold the carrier responsible. In either case, however, you must note all damages on your bill of lading and file a claim, usually within 24 to 48 hours by phone, e-mail or fax, or five days by certified mail.
Here at Central, we make it even easier. If a product appears damaged when you open the package, simply call the Central Product Consultant who handled your order, and Central will do the work for you, provide a Return Authorization Number and instructions on how to return the item. Once we receive it, we’ll quickly process your return and get a new unit on its way to you. We can also give you a credit or refund (in the form of original payment) if preferred.
“We have a commitment to providing a positive customer experience,” Rairden says, “so we’ll do whatever we can to replace a damaged product. We’ve even offered packaging suggestions to vendors based on the damage we’ve seen to packages, and we’re always looking for continual improvement in our policies and procedures to help prevent issues from arising.”
Note that defective products—those that don’t work properly out of the box—are under manufacturer warranty and can be returned. Just call us and we’ll help you expedite the process.
- Give only specific employees authorization to receive and sign for deliveries. Let us know who is authorized to sign and provide contact numbers when you place an order.
- Arrange delivery times only when authorized employees have enough time to properly inspect and count incoming shipments.
- Provide us with your specific delivery needs (e.g., time-of-day delivery window, trucks with liftgates, dollies for transporting product, etc.).
- Keep a receiving log that tracks delivery times and any exceptions to your order.
- Instruct authorized employees to refuse delivery if the packaging is damaged. Note the reason for refusal on the bill of lading and your receiving log.
- If concealed damage or noted damage has occurred after the shipment has been signed for, save the shipping cartons and packaging. It also helps to take photos of the product as it appeared once the packaging is removed and any damage. Call us as soon as possible to arrange a product return and take care of the damage claim.
- Note any damage and action taken on the receiving log.
Consumers are becoming more accustomed to faster delivery programs. “So, we’ve made it our policy to ship in-stock orders the same day if customers order before 4 p.m.,” DiRuzza says.
Same-day shipping gives you a better idea of when shipments will arrive, depending on the carrier, so you can plan ahead. And, of course, in many cases, you have the option of overnight, two- or three-day delivery for an additional cost.
Armed with knowledge and some planning you can avoid shipping and delivery problems. But if you ever do encounter problems, we can help. We’re just a phone call away.
“We want to hear about problems or issues so we can fix them,” Rairden says. “Then we can make the changes needed to improve the customer experience.”
Set Yourself Up for Success
The best way to avoid problems with shipments you receive is to follow a few simple guidelines.
- Work with us. Central and our qualified vendors vet shipping companies and negotiate contracted rates when possible. We’ll also bend over backward to resolve problems when they arise.
- Learn our policies. Become familiar with vendor shipping and return policies – just ask your consultant
- Plan in advance. Think about what you’re ordering. If it’s a large piece of equipment, do you have a loading dock? If so, will it accommodate the delivery truck’s height? Are your doorways wide enough to accommodate the product if you want inside delivery? Do you need a pallet jack, dolly or hand cart to move the item where you want it? Do you have the manpower available to handle a heavy piece of equipment?
- Clearly communicate. Let your customer service or sales representative know if you have any special delivery requirements, such as whether you need liftgate service and where you want the product placed.
- Inspect all deliveries. Once you accept a shipment, the product is yours. Check for damages before you sign.
- Expect to pay fair rates for additional services. Delivery services such as inside placement, liftgate service, and white–glove service may cost extra.
- Call us if you experience problems. Your Central Product Consultant will help you resolve any issues.
Hope has been a Content Specialist since November 2015, where she brings to the table years of experience in the food service industry in a variety of roles. Throughout her time with Central, Hope has focused on learning all things possible about everything from cooking equipment to concession and specialty products in order to empower operators with education on commercial equipment and supplies. Hope is a wife, new mom, avid crafter, and food lover (french fries please!).