Maximizing Current Assets
Client: Furniture Bank of Central Ohio
Date: Fall 2018
FBCO doesn’t know if the donors just want to throw away furniture or truly donate —they assess the quality/state of the items being donated until they make the pick-up. FBCO is losing some donations because they are not picking up quick enough
“Drivers are Everything”; FBCO ambassadors, evaluating, accepting/rejecting, loading, and moving furniture. They are not necessarily trained for customer services; some donors have had bad experiences. Curbside delivery is perceived as a rushed (and often rude) process
Function is placed over aesthetic at the wood shop; wood is mismatched, giving the finished product a rugged look. Workshop volunteers would like to work more days/ hours but there aren’t enough materials to do so
FBCO has 3 different storage locations in different parts of town, so furniture is constantly moved from place to place. At the FB there is more furniture than place to store/display it, making the display room look clustered and disorganized
Most clients that visit the Thrift Store don’t know about the Furniture Bank or its mission. Clients are fascinated when they learn about FB mission and are more likely to support
Some donors have felt disappointed in learning about the Thrift Store, thinking their donations were used for profit
From the moment we started to learn about the organization’s model, and took a closer look at their logistics and internal processes, we were able to identify areas of opportunity to improve their current operations. These areas of opportunity wouldn’t necessarily bring more sources of revenue, but would rather contribute to a better allocation of resources, reduce expenses and help the organization save money. As a result of these findings, our group focused on the challenge of “maximizing current assets”.
We identified 5 distinct phases that make their process: Donate, Collect, Process, Shop, and Deliver. By outlining these phases, we were able to clearly trace the journey of the main stakeholders: the donors, the truck divers, and the recipient families, establishing both key pain points and positive aspects of each part of the process.
Solution and Value
Our concept, Optimizing the Donation Process, proposed to collect more information for potential donor recipient families to streamline the collection, selection, and distribution processes.
The idea is to solicit information on the furniture —type, dimensions, etc.— provided by donors before it’s picked up by the FBCO. This information would be used to optimize the process of picking up and storing each piece in the optimal warehouse/display room according to its size, shape, and condition, creating an improved experience for the family receiving the donation.
The service starts by gathering measurements and pictures of possible donations before even scheduling a pick-up. This allows the FBCO to decide which donations they wish to collect and which ones to decline. Also, having more visibility on the donations provides the opportunity to sort and allocate each item in advance. This means better planning of the pick-up routes based on location, estimated space in the trucks, and final warehouse destination. Furniture Bank would make only the necessary pick-up trips and reduce the number of times each item is moved between locations and inside the warehouses, saving time, resources, and money.
The same information -pictures and measurements- can be used to make a digital inventory that could be updated, in real time, as items are collected, allocated, selected, and delivered to the final recipient family. The digital inventory can be used as a catalog from which the recipient families can select their items —making for an improved, modern shopping experience that feels less time constrained and can be done from the comfort of their homes, with more flexibility on the time and day of the selection.
The Furniture Bank would be able to plan for and allocate donated furniture, thus allowing them to offer an improved shopping experience and expanded delivery options.
The trucks, talent, and hours would be optimized from the start of the process, allowing for more available resources to offer expanded delivery options. Families could select from available days and times of delivery that adapt to their schedules during checkout —just like with any online buying experience— relieving the pressure of same day delivery and offering more in-home deliveries.