In our 15-plus years, we’ve always found it best to be transparent with our customers so that you could trust us and how we do business. To that end, I’m writing to you today to address the operational challenges that may have negatively affected your recent customer experience.
As you know, the stone and monument industry as a whole has struggled these past two years: Inventory is tight, while demand, unfortunately, remains strong. Thanks to supply chain shortages, delays have become all too common. We wanted to help solve these problems, so we connected with our global supply partners and quickly secured a new stone pipeline.
Opening up that channel doubled our business in 24 months, but it didn’t allow us enough time to properly scale operations. The result was delays, damaged stones and incorrect deliveries. Needless to say, this is not the top-quality experience we’ve always been known for.
To address these issues, we have looked to our past to move forward. In 2006, our first year in business, we faced similar logistical problems, including delayed shipments and occasional stone damage. We knew then that if we didn’t improve we would go out of business. Happily, we got better, and we’re using the lessons learned then to overcome our challenges today.
- In response to delivery delays … To accommodate the heavy demand, we sometimes received 20 truckloads of stone a day. However, we didn’t yet have processes in place to organize and track this massive quantity, which in turn made it hard to locate each individual stone and resulted in delays for outgoing orders. To solve this problem, we’ve implemented a new warehouse management system, based on a row-shelf-bin organizational model. That new system and new QR code protocols—which require staff members to scan each stone upon arrival at our facility, upon shelving, and again upon shipment—make locating a stone a much easier task. Fulfillment times are, thus, faster, backlogs fewer, and delivery times shorter.
- In response to stone damage … The difficulties in locating specific stones meant our team had to move each stone around more frequently and this extra manhandling naturally led to more damage. The organizational improvements mentioned above go a long way to solving this. However we have also introduced stronger Paletts, so that the stones are more protected all along their journey, purchased a new, state-of-the-art, shrink-wrap machine that better insulates our stones and implemented an inspection process that ensures each Pallet exits the warehouse in perfect condition.
- In response to incorrect deliveries … we tasked a supervisor with checking each outgoing order to ensure that each Pallet contains the correct stones. The QR scanning referenced above offers a second confirmation. And a new inbound supervisor guarantees that stones are shelved properly in the warehouse upon arrival, further decreasing mix-ups.
- In response to problems in the customer experience … we beefed up Salem Inspire—our designing, ordering, and tracking platform—to accommodate the increased demand. We also adopted a call center model of customer service, which has greatly increased our call-processing capacity.
We hope all of these changes mean you are already experiencing better service from us, but we will remain grateful for your patience as we continue to iron out the rest of the kinks. We will continue to update you over the next few weeks but please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments as they arise. Most of all, thank you for giving us another chance to offer you the highest level of service.