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Behind the Scenes - Delivery and Installation

Modern transitional living room by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

Last month, we discussed the purchasing and project management part of the design process, and today we're wrapping up this series with the big finale - delivery and installation! You might remember that in our previous process post, we left off with orders placed and the bulk of items associated with a project waiting at our receiver until we can deliver to our client's home. Let's back up a little and talk about the how and why regarding the delivery part of our design process.

Based on my experience with potential or new clients, there is some mystery regarding the delivery and installation phase. Let me just start by saying that there is no such thing as free shipping. I know, I know...your email inbox may beg to differ. You probably have at least a few solicitations offering codes for free shipping. Everyone is so used to seeing those words free shipping that it's something most people come to expect. Here's the deal...when you see the words free shipping, just know that for the most part shipping costs are being rolled into the cost of the item.

So if shipping is truly not free, let's discuss why that is. Think of the logistics to move something from one side of the country to another and all of the human hands that touch something to get it from here to there. The people who wrap items for shipping, load it onto freight trucks, drive the freight truck to a delivery agent, then unload, reroute, and repeat until said item arrives at its final destination...well, someone's got to pay for that not to mention the truck's gas, insurance, etc. It all adds up and in sum that cost is accounted for at some point ie its not free. While we don't always know exactly what freight and delivery costs will be up front when we place orders for our clients, we do include estimates on our project proposals for clients based on historical data we track from each and every project. Now that we've cleared that up, let's move on to the why's and how's when it comes to using a receiver.

For our full service design projects we {almost} exclusively specify to the trade only items. While some of the smaller items we order for clients can be drop shipped via UPS or Fed Ex, all of the larger pieces (think sofas and large case good items) travel via a freight truck (otherwise known as a semi-truck) from our various vendors across America to a local delivery agent known as a receiver. In case you're wondering why a semi-truck can't just pull up to your front door, let me stop you right there. Long-haul freight trucks are well, long, and huge and cannot maneuver tight residential streets plus most do not have a lift gate meaning they must unload at a facility with a loading dock and a team of people who unload each truck's contents with a forklift.

Another prime reason for using a receiver is that every project has more than a few different vendors and therefore accepting deliveries directly at a client's home would be more of a piecemeal way to complete the process. This way, everything arrives in one central location where it is inspected, logged into inventory, then rewrapped and stored together until all large pieces for a project have arrived. We're always holding our breath once we receive shipping notification from the vendor while we track shipments to our receiver here in Houston, just waiting and praying - anything can happen on the road, or sometimes packaging comes loose or is done incorrectly. Stuff happens and this check right in the middle of the process helps so, so much!

It's important to note that any item that arrives with visible damage to the outside packaging will be refused immediately by the delivery agent and sent back to the vendor directly. As each piece is inspected, any damage is noted and pictures are taken. Once we are alerted, we work behind the scenes to take care of any issues including working with the vendor to obtain a replacement. This is part of our full service customer service...we take care of any headaches so you don't have to. Are you feeling the love for full service yet? Wait, it gets better.

Not only does each piece get inspected prior to delivery, any item that requires assembly will be assembled by our wonderful delivery team (for anyone who has put together items on their own, you'll know this is worth every penny and then some). Smaller items get drop shipped to our office to avoid additional fees, and we inspect everything before it gets stored until prep day prior to install. Prep day we double check our install bag (packed to the gills MacGuyver-style with random things like Super Sliders, rug tape, swiss army knives, Goo-B-Gone, Windex, and paper towels) and triple check our project's smalls inventory then load our van.

Once install day arrives, one of my assistants and I will meet the drivers from the receiver at our client's home to guide the operation. Typically we also schedule our installer for custom window treatments on delivery day so that custom drapes get installed first before the moving guys get started. If we have art to install, our art installer works around the moving guys in rooms where they are not setting up furniture. #NLITeamRocks

Depending on the size and scope of a project, delivery day may actually mean multiple days. For larger projects, we plan ahead to set up all furniture, drapes, and art on the first day, while the second day is all about final styling. I highly recommend to our clients that they be out of the house during the actual install, or at the very least, hunkering down in a different part of the house where they can still be surprised by the final reveal - there's nothing like it! As one sweet client said in her review..."the furniture white glove delivery was a thing of beauty to watch" and I can assure you we try our very best to go above and beyond every step of the way during a project but especially on delivery days.

We love leaving fresh flowers for clients when we have the final reveal, and most likely a new favorite candle, because who doesn't love candles? And if I'm really feeling tech savvy, we'll have your favorite music when you walk in (there's a reason for that question in my questionnaire!) before I dance my way out the door for you to enjoy your new space.

I look forward to these days so much - they really are the most worthwhile to see how much a well designed space can change someone's demeanor and daily rituals. If you have a project you would love to discuss, we're one message away!


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