A guide to help prevent unwanted surprises after your delivery
We’ve discussed at length about how schools can properly prepare for their fundraiser delivery. For example, sponsors should recruit volunteers in advance to help sort and distribute student boxes. Providing proper notice to your parents so they know when to picking up their orders is another planning step.
But what kinds of issues might sponsors encounter after they’ve received their merchandise? As with any order, mistakes can occasionally happen and items can become damaged during shipment. The post fundraiser delivery stage is as important as any other, which is why it’s important to know what situations may arise and how to address them effectively.
The most important objective at this point is to deal with any outstanding matters as quickly and efficiently as possible. Many school fundraising companies provide deadline dates to report any needed corrections. Also, you don’t want to keep your parents waiting beyond a reasonable time period to get their orders fixed. Here’s how to manage some of the post fundraiser delivery issues that you may encounter.
Missing or Damaged Fundraising Merchandise
There are basically 2 ways that companies handle missing or damaged items:
- Require sponsors to submit an item replacement form.
- Refer parents to a customer service department.
Replacement Form Method
If you’re dealing with a company that requires that you submit a form, one option is to inspect each order yourself before it goes home with the student. This way you know what needs to be addressed before the boxes leave the school. Some sponsors take this a step further and have the parents initial or sign off on their orders as they’re picking them up. It’s also a good idea to recruit extra help to do this. There should be a computer-generated report inside each student’s box along with the order form that tells you what’s inside. You can use this report as a checklist.
Another option is to go ahead and send the students boxes home, then give parents a deadline date to report back any discrepancies. We provide this information for our sponsors in their parent letter that goes out at the beginning of the fundraiser. Make sure to periodically remind your parents about your deadline date. This way you won’t have to make any excuses if parents come back a month later with an item that needs to be replaced.
Customer Service Method
Some companies provide online customer support or a toll-free phone number for parents to call. This information should be provided inside the student’s box. Sponsors should still expect questions from parents and thus should have the company contact information readily available.
How do We Handle Wrong Items?
Another situation that occasionally comes up is what to do if a wrong item is sent by mistake. This is handled the same way as a damaged item. There may be a need to reconcile the invoice depending on the amount the school was initially billed for the incorrect item. Keep in mind that many companies won’t replace an item that is marked down incorrectly on the order form. In other words, if the customer wrote down the wrong item number by mistake they are simply given the option to reorder the correct item.
Dealing with Backorders and Substitutions
Depending on the time of the season, backorders and substitutions can become an issue. As company inventory begins to run low, these situations become more likely. Keep in mind that a backordered item will eventually be restocked and automatically shipped to the school once available. On the other hand, a substituted item will not be replaced. Companies either automatically replace the item with something comparable, or offer online store credit which has become more common in recent years.
Companies should always alert both the sponsor and any affected parents of backordered or substituted items. A timeline for replacing backorders should also be provided.
Communicating with Your Parents
As long as sponsors are well versed on what to expect after the delivery, they’ll know how to manage any issues that may arise with their parents. Make sure you clearly communicate what you think your parents should know in advance but don’t overwhelm them with too much information. We provide a school fundraising guidebook that our sponsors use to addresses these issues.
At the end of the day, companies that have a strong track record usually pull off a large fundraiser delivery containing several thousand items with little to no issues at all. We just want sponsors to be prepared, just in case.