After-Hours Deliveries?

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
Founding Member
Nov 5, 1997
Suburban Central Ohio
Another thread has posts about suppliers' delivery drivers having a key and making deliveries after hours, when nobody else is around.

One driver mentioned lets himself into a customer's shop to deliver routinely around 2:30 am. Would that arrangement be OK with you, for your business?

I don't think I'd give a key to anyone other than my employees. It's not a matter of trust -- I know and respect all of the drivers who regularly grace our back door.

It's more a matter of common-sense security precautions. Every key to the business, existing out there in the real world, represents another opportunity for something to go wrong.

For example:

1. The key could accidentally be lost by the driver, or by his substitute when he's out sick or on vacation, or by someone else at the supplier. I'm sure they'd notify us, and then we'd have to get the locks changed.

2. If the supplier keeps a customer's key unsecured in a certain place, an interloper could imprint it and make a copy for the purpose of breaking in later. If that seems like a long shot, consider that drug addicts frequently use unsuspecting friends to help them gain criminal access to homes & businesses.

3. A thief or vandal could lie in wait & follow the driver into the shop, bonk him on the head, and then rob the place.

My insurance agent would go nuts if he knew a non-employee had a key to the shop and used it routinely.

That said, I've never been in the situation where after-hours deliveries would be handy. Delivery drivers, including UPS & FedEx, find a way to get here during our normal hours.

Occasionally, boxes are been left at a neighboring business, with a note on our door. No problem, so long as the neighbor is willing.

And one supplier had permission to leave morning deliveries behind our dumpster within a couple hours of our opening time. I believe that's as far as I'd go to accommodate off-hours deliveries.

What say you?
I don't want anyone in my shop when I am not here. I have no employees. It is just me and my husband. My neighbors are glad to accept pkgs for us if the need arises. I will get here early on Wednesdays if I have LJ coming in b/c they deliver at 7:30-8:00 & we open at 9:00.
Nope...too risky.
The other thread got me thinking about exactly this- the liability seems more risky than the convenience of this kind of arrangement.

I wasn't thinking about the trust you should or shouldn't have in the delivery folks, it's the liability you open yourself up to.. what if something happens to a pc. of artwork? Damaged beyond repair, stolen, etc. You just know your delivery guy didn't do it, but what happened? The insurance guy is gonna go nuts, like Jim said, if they find out that other folks have access to the shop,esp. during hours no one else is there to back them up. I wouldn't want to be opened up to that kind of liability as a driver!

I dunno, the whole arrangement just smacks of disaster waiting to happen. But then again I'm a smidge cynical.
After having had 3 break-ins, I would decline. Not because of your valid points, Jim, but because I have a monitored security system and I just hate those 3AM calls.
I suppose that I could put in a locked shed or antichamber specifically for this if it were an issue, but right now, its not.
I am having a difficult time understanding why a delivery has to be made at O:Dark:Early in the morning!
I buy from 6 moulding distributors that run multi-day deliveries through this area and they deliver up to closing time and usually hit a motel after that for a decent night's sleep. All of them have certain motels that will expect them on a given evening each week and have their rooms ready for them. The LJ delivery guy stays less than a mile from my shop on Thurs. evenings but he doesn't usually hit town until after 6 PM and most of us are already closed for the day. I have never heard him complain about having to lay over in FWB for an evening. I get my delivery first thing Friday and he gets back to Louisiana by dark that evening.

Man, there has to be a law about how many hours a guy can deliver moulding or how late/early he should be expected to be on the road making those drop-offs when the rest of the people are still in bed!! :eek:

It sounds to me like these people who have these middle of the night arrangements might be off the beaten path of their suppliers and this is all they can work out. I wouldn't give a key to a third party myself, but then I have daily 9-5 delivery and I don't have to.

After talking with a couple Grumblers who can't get anything delivered I bet they would jump at the chance for a middle of the night delivery.

Being in a big city I have spent my framing career assuming everybody had stuff delivered to their doors just like I do. Boy do I feel lucky....
My guy leaves the Greensboro facility sometime late in the afternoon on Thursday. There are many, many frameshops between Greensboro and Clayton. He goes through Burlington, Durham, RTP, Chapel Hill and Raleigh and all the little outlying areas of these major cities before getting to Clayton. I'm sorta at an in between place for John. No frame shops to deliver to for about 45 miles after me. I'm thrilled to get the delivery at 2:30 AM. As I've stated, he has a key, and I trust him. So....why all the fuss? If it doesn't affect all the rest of you, I don't get it.
Cash is one thing and there isn't that much around, but out of respect for my customer's cherished mementos I'd decline. I trust my regular LJ driver, it's just a professional thing. It pains me enough to have employees with keys after having one bump uglies on the fitting table.

The cops have thrown me out of here 3 times in the past when I've been pulling all nighters trying to catch up, once with 2 guns pointed square at me. (They came silently in the back door and I heard the door creak and ran back there trying to intimidate whomever was sneaking in - almost got shot.) I don't believe they would tolerate a delivery person. I'd definitely get calls each time a policeman happened to see him.
Actually, being the smartarse that I am, I'd probably ask for a key and alarm codes to the warehouse for after-hours pick-up.
I'm with Jim, Gumbogirl, and the others with concerns about potential downsides to handing out the key, particularly where responsibility for customers' property is concerned. Most delivery guys get here fine during normal business hours. Sometimes my LJ delivery guy beats me here in the morning, so he leaves my stuff on the front stoop (it's under roof). Never had anything stolen or bothered yet. Next door neighbor and I also accept small parcels for one another occasionally.
:cool: Rick
I might be inclined if there was an area like a shed that was closed off from the main operating area. So the alarm would not go off and he could drop and run. However I would not be comfy with the fact that the driver is out and about at that time going in shopss. He/she gets tired like we all do, that is a time for sleeping. If it was like 7PM or 7AM, you can understand a late arrival or early start. Still would like a shed or something like that.
Patrick Leeland
I hear ya Janet, but the rest of the country has their points too.

I don't think Jim was saying that you are wrong, he was just fishing around for what other framers think or feel.

I think I would go with Patricks idea of a lockable shed or something other than where my customers have dropped off their valuables...
There is no way I would want anyone in my shop when I'm not here. HOWEVER... If I get a delivery at a time when I'm not here, my driver either leaves it with a neighbor, or by my front door. Never had anything stolen.

My regular driver would not want the resposibility of having a key to my shop. (And I would not trust some of the replacment drivers.)
Look at this from the suppliers side - don't you think their liability insurance would be sky-high to offer this type of after-hours delivery? I know that when we ran photo delivery routes, we never left film/photos with anyone else but the store they belonged to, even still, the insurance on the vehicle, driver and the merchandise was crazy expensive!