First off all and before we get into the details of this months blog, let's begin with a quick Classic Mini Product Range lead time update.
As of Friday 25th June we have manufactured and dispatched all orders placed before 1st April, so current lead times (for standard product range orders that we will be working on next) are estimated to be 11 to 13 weeks.
And now into the details & explanation of why this months blog entry is so detailed.
16 months after the start of Covid I have received our first complaint with regards to how I am dealing with the current Covid situation, from a customer service point of view. It’s always been my policy to review feedback, both good and bad - and if it's bad feedback we obviously need to find what was wrong. I’ve always taken the attitude that if one person says it, others will have likely thought it and on that basis I have always dropped everything and tackled the situation right away.
In many cases it turns out that nothing needs to be changed and/or updated but on the other hand and in many instances, we have continually made changes and/or updates to both the service that we offer and/or the products that we manufacture. Over the years I haven’t personally agreed with many of the updates we have made, but it’s not my opinion that matters, it’s yours (our customers) - this attitude that I’ve always ran Optimise with, is what makes us so successful and I will continue to to listen to any form of feedback, no matter what it is.
The only way to answer this complaint, is to explain in detail why our lead times are currently so ridiculous and to also explain why we are currently doing things (with regards to custom service and production) the way we are.
I would like to first of all say that I completely sympathise with anyone who is getting frustrated with the current wait for orders.
Our current lead time is quite frankly ridiculous, but it’s unfortunately something that is completely out of our control and our current lead times have been created by Covid. Back in late February/early March our lead times were relatively normal for the time of year (4 to 6 weeks) and as I predicted in our March blog, we anticipated a surge of orders as show organisers started to confirm shows for 2021 and also as the UK government announced the plan to come out of Covid restrictions.
However, we didn’t anticipate that throughout March and April we would receive around five months worth of orders, in two months - we are currently right in the middle of that huge surge and doing everything we can within production to try and keep on top of everything.
Just to let you know, in the first week of April (which is orders that we are currently working on) we received what would usually be considered as four weeks worth of orders in a single week (every week in March and April we received at least what we consider to be two weeks worth of orders in every single week). You can be rest assured that we are working through things as quickly as possible, but we cannot work any quicker than we currently are.
Quality cannot be rushed, we refuse to drop our level of quality and cut corners to fast track orders out the door, I’m afraid you will need to wait for the quality interior trim you ordered.
In addition to our own lead times, our entire supply network is also having the same problem and lead times on many of our supplies are also causing us problems with our workflow. I order all supplies that we need (for the next batch of orders) every Monday morning and in pre-Covid times, we would be taking delivery of everything & anything that we need, on Wednesday at the very latest. Currently though, many of our supplies are taking over a week to be delivered, which makes predicting when we can manufacture and dispatch your orders near impossible.
Take perforated headliners for example, we need to send the leatherette off to the perforators (to have the leatherette perforated), pre-Covid we would send the leatherette off on a Monday and have it back on a Wednesday - right now this same service is taking well over a working week.
Another example is our boxes (packaging boxes), pre-Covid we could order on a Monday and have the bespoke boxes manufactured and delivered within 2 working days - due to the current demand for cardboard boxes (caused by an increase in online orders) it’s taking around 2 weeks for delivery.
Simply, everyone is in the same boat and it’s caused havoc with the entire automotive industry.
Just to let you know, I’m in the workshop most days at the moment, giving an extra pair of hands in production (which is helping speed things up and helping us get extra orders out the door each week), but it also means that I am not at my desk as much as usual and unable to answer the phone. I know this isn’t ideal, but regrettably I cannot be in two places at once and given the current situation and our current lead times, in my opinion getting work out the door is more important than being able to answer the phone all day every day.
A vast majority of our customers have been understanding of the situation (I would like to thank you all for that) and all I can do is apologise to those of you who feel we have not meet your expectations.
Once all of this is over and things are back to normal, I will be sitting down and working out what we could have done differently - I will aim to prepare for and improve the service we offer throughout any future Worldwide pandemic.
Moving forward, as things now start to get back to normal we believe our lead times will gradually come down again, but for now (following that huge surge of orders in March and April as everyone rushed to ready pride and joys, for a well overdue show season and a bit of freedom), they remain higher than ever. We anticipate that by September lead times will be back to what we call normal (pre-covid normal) and back to around 3 to 5 weeks. Order levels in May and June were relatively normal (a little higher than normal, but nothing out of the ordinary like March and April), so once the giant backlog (from March and April) is out the way, lead times (fingers crossed) should start to fall.
Until then though, please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused by the prolonged wait for Classic Mini interior trim - hopefully it’s not too long until everything is back to normal.
Fingers crossed, this absolute load of waffle I’ve spent the afternoon putting together gives everyone a better understanding of what’s going on. Plus, hopefully it can also provide those of you who are getting very frustrated with our current lead times a better understanding of what we are currently going through and reassures everyone that we are doing everything we can, to the best of our abilities, given this completely mad situation we all find ourselves in.
Have a great evening.
Andy & the Optimise Automotive team