Determining Which Shipping Date to Give to Suppliers
Question: Should I put the real shipping or in-hands dates on the orders I send to suppliers?
Answer: I always built in a cushion of a few days to prevent 11th-hour heroics and to be prepared for client ignorance, like neglecting to tell me the event is at 8 a.m. or that they need time to further personalize the items for the event.
Also, look at the calendar for the event dates before specifying it for the supplier. The event date might be the last day of a long holiday weekend where delivery days before the event are not possible.
In addition to delays on the supplier side with shipping, you can also have problems with the customer receiving the items or weather delays with the shipping company. I dealt with a lot of schools. I ran into problems where the mailroom received the boxes, but neglected to deliver them to the correct department, or my favorite—turned away the UPS delivery since they were not aware of its coming. Way too many things can go wrong with the supplier, the shipping company and your customer to risk listing the correct date. Give yourself a cushion where possible so you have time to correct any problems.
Rush orders may force you to list the correct date as long as everyone involved knows the hard stop for the order.
On the other side, however, I put the real event date on the customer acknowledgement because I wanted to be sure I was correct, and set correct expectations for them. I always wanted to under promise and over deliver by having the items safely in my customer’s hands a few days in advance.
Finally, keep checking with your supplier to be sure they are meeting your requested dates.
Please email accounting questions you would like considered for the column to HGatter@AccountingSupportLLC.com with the subject line of "Ask the Accountant."
Harriet Gatter, owner of Accounting Support LLC, was an ad specialty distributor for 23 years and an adjunct professor of accounting at Neumann University. She sold her ad specialty business in 2012, became certified as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and now works exclusively with ad specialty distributors nationwide on their QuickBooks, order management and accounting needs.