School might be out for some this summer but not so for SPC Verlag (SPC) who will be working flat out throughout the holidays to ensure that schools in Germany receive their annual supply of student diaries, year books and planners in time to start the new academic year in September.
The Huntingdon based company, which has been established for eight years, produces up to 600,000 individual items each year across Germany.
Orders are placed by schools during the winter months and from April until September the products are despatched to Germany and with each school having an average order value of 10 boxes it is a sizeable task.
Timing is critical and so the choice of delivery partner is key. A missed delivery not only means a lost order worth many thousands of pounds but also potentially a lost customer.
It is therefore vital that schools have these materials to distribute to staff and pupils for the start of the new term.
Operating from its UK base and exporting exclusively to Germany, SPC needs a carrier that it can rely on and over the past twelve months the company has enjoyed a successful working partnership with premium express delivery company City Link.
Having had a disastrous experience with its previous carrier, SPC took the decision twelve months ago to look for a new delivery partner. They put the contract out to tender but it was City Link’s flexibility, willingness to not just go the extra mile but to really understand SPC’s business which tipped the scales in the final selection process.
SPC sees the delivery function as a direct reflection of its own customer service and for a business which has consistently grown by 20% year on year reputation is essential. They were comfortable with City Link’s approach and confident that they could deliver the high standard of service they required.
SPC Sales Manager Maxie Schiffmann commented: "Our choice of carrier is so important to our business because our customers see them as being part of our operation. If they fail it reflects badly on us."
City Link provides regular 48 hour delivery cycles via its Road Express Service to Germany, but is also tasked with arranging delivery directly with the schools so as to accommodate their opening times, which is particularly important in the holidays. For instance, whilst consignments are ready for despatch from the UK at the beginning of August, the receiving school is not yet open which requires City Link to offer warehousing facilities until such time as the school is ready to receive it.
Maxie Schiffmann explained: "Delivery to a school is not like delivering to any other business. Each school has its individual requirements not to mention the fact that it may not always be open during the holiday period which is our peak delivery time. So when it comes to arranging a delivery we are often faced with a number of challenges including very small time windows within which City Link has to work.
"City Link understands this and recognises that flexibility in operation is essential. The service they offer is seamless. Their level of customer service is exemplary and they are really doing an excellent job for us."
This flexibility and willingness to go the extra mile was put to the test last year when due to an issue with a supplier SPC had just two weeks to ship over 60.000 planners to 40 schools. To ensure deadlines were met, City Link arranged for a convoy of five vans a day to travel to Germany to ensure that consignments reached the schools on time.
Maxie Schiffmann continued: "It was incredible – like a military operation – but it worked. When we were faced with a crisis City Link really came to the fore which is what a true partnership is all about."