Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The best and worst delivery services

Sam Rayner is the Managing Director of the family firm, Lakeland. These are the smart people, based in Cumbria, who do the kitchenware. They started as mail order people, now have stores in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee.

I know nothing about Sam Rayner except that I bet he went home one night with a bee in his bonnet about deliveries at Christmas. He probably went to his country cottage somewhere, and ordered something from his firm. Then he found - not the problem, there probably wasn't a big one - but a solution to the overwhelming difficulty facing people waiting for parcels at Christmas. This scheme, EVERY RETAILER should copy.

The big worry is that you will not be in when the delivery arrives. What will happen then? Some people pay up to £60 to have a house sitter stay in all day just waiting for the parcel.

He modified his website a bit, ten minute job, that's all. If you order something from Lakeland, then they ask which of the options would you prefer for delivery if you are not in, (Leaving at a neighbour, putting in the shed, whatever)

This instruction of yours GOES ON TO THE LABEL telling the driver what to do. How easy is that?

I've no idea if Sam did this personally. It is classically the kind of idea which is difficult to get through the layers of management in a company, so I bet he did. If he didn't and it came up from below then he gets congratulations for that as well.

You've never heard of them, I'm sure, but they have started to deliver for some of Amazon's suppliers. If they continue then they will drag Amazon's reputation into the ground. They are cheap, probably the cheapest, to use. By reputation they pay very low wages. They say they are the largest, and quote a long list of eminent names, but nothing on their website seems to be updated from December last year.

You get a "We couldn't deliver" card from an outfit called YODEL. (Told you you didn't know them)
The card gives no address, no name, just a website and a telephone number. They never answer. If you put the reference number into their website it asks you when you want delivery. This also is rubbish because they take no notice of this and deliver next when it suits them. You don't even know who the parcel is from.
The website forums talking about them are full of horror stories. It is actually an outfit which was called Home Delivery Services (HDNL). The managing director has a fine pedigree in business. He gave a lovely interview to the Warehouse trade magazine, and one of the comments this year was:
"Ordered a 32GB IPhone 4 from amazon.
HDNL Delivered it by throwing it over my fence and into my pond."
If you got to  http://www.reviewcentre.com/ and enter their name, There are hundreds of poor reports. 

I don't want you to go out of business, but raise your prices get rid of the low paying customers, recruit better staff and management, don't set them such tough targets, then start to copy Lakeland's system.

Actually, you can't do that. Your existing customer base will never stand for it. Once you are in a hole like this you cannot dig yourself out. Best to start again. 
ps. Don't ever believe you can solve an image problem by just changing the brand identity.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New page about Castles in the area on our website

Inside Dunstaffnage castle walls, near Oban. Seat of the MacDougalls, taken by Robert the Bruce in the early 14th century with the help of both the MacDonalds and the Campbells. The MacDonalds were later rewarded by The Bruce by being given the lands of Duror and Glencoe. The Campbells took over the castle, and Inverlochy casltle by Fort William as well.

If I put in a link to the new website page from here, it helps Google to find it and list it. Here is  some of the text.
Castles in the Highlands of the West of Scotland

From North to South, Eilean Donan castle, Urquhart castle, by Loch ness, down to Inverlochy castle and Stalker castle on Loch Linnhe, on to Dunstaffnage castleand Dunollie castle both near Oban, Duart castle on Mull. Three castles on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, Mingary castle, Tioram castle and Ardtornish castle

These are some of the finest medieval castles in the Highlands of West Scotland. Most of the Scotland castles date from before 13th century, and were once built in wood, at the time of the Vikings raids.

Everyone photographs Edinburgh castle, with all its gift shops for tourists but the essence of Scotland is to be found in medieval castles such as Dunstaffnage castle, near Oban,  or its neighbour Dunollie castle.

Inverlochy castle is right beside the Highland town of Fort William.
Castle Urquhart towers above Loch Ness and a long way to the North of it lies Eilean Donan Castle.

Gillian and I love, in particular, the remote Tioram castle in Moidart.  Its neighbour is Mingary castle in Ardnamurchan. Ardtornish castle is by the Lochaline ferry to Mull.

On the island of Mull a short ferry crossing from Oban is Duart castle. The nearest castle to our cottage is 20 minutes away, one of the most photographed in Scotland, Castle Stalker.

Click on the page links to each of the West of Scotland castles for some of its story.

Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
  • Short Breaks Glencoe
  • Stories about Appin villages blog