For those of us who have spent our years at the Corporate Headquarters, the KCDC is, much like our Salt Lake City call center, a bit of an enigma. However mysterious it may seem, one thing has never been argued: this part of the Musician’s Friend operation is perhaps the most important to our success, because at the end of the day, direct-to-consumer businesses have to get products into customers’ hands as quickly as possible. Which, we’re very proud to say, we do day in and day out.
So we thought that given this month’s Warehouse Sale, we’d pay these unsung heroes a visit and finally write their long-overdue song. And along the way, hopefully illuminate for you how your gear goes from a click on our website into your creative sphere.
Make no mistake—the KCDC is not your run-of-the-mill warehouse. At over 700,000 square feet, it’s a massive collection of music gear…the largest in the United States. Opened in 2007, it’s a seamless blend of modern automation and the personal, hands-on touch of what many times is a fellow musician picking, packing and sending your order out the door (you’ll see a few of these folks highlighted throughout the book).
Jeff Perry, Director of Operations at the KCDC, is well aware of the facility’s impact on our customers. In his philosophy, it all starts with something we all share when it comes to music and gear: passion.
“It’s passion for the gear. That’s what I drive into our whole management team,” says Perry. “We have to love what we’re doing, and we have to love taking care of our customers. The expectation has been set that when they order something, they’re going to get it quickly, and it’s going to be right and in good quality. The biggest thing that’s going to drive that is passion. You need to be passionate about being here. Once we have that, everything else will follow, and we’ll be taking good care of our customers.”
The KCDC ships, on average, 9,000 to 10,000 orders each day to musicians around the world. In order to meet that demand, we had to build the facility from the ground up. It was a major improvement over our old DC, which Perry explains has a direct positive effect on customers. “We had a little ½-mile conveyor in the old building, and did a lot of things manually. Over here we became highly automated. We now have 4-½ miles of conveyor and the most efficient means of picking product available. We have real-time inventory tracking, so our inventory is more accurate. All this adds up to getting customer orders out the door much more quickly.”
That automation, however, doesn’t come at the expense of a personal touch. As Perry tells us, “Our personal touch happens where our packers are finalizing the boxes. Those are the individuals who are making sure the customer’s getting all their items and that the box is in good shape. Even on ship-alone products, they’re looking at it to make sure it’s correct. We want eyes on every product before it goes out the door.”
Shipping isn’t the only thing happening at the KCDC. The Inventory Resource Group headed by Operations Manager Robbie Bennett is a copywriter’s best friend (trust me). Given the tens of thousands of products we carry, we run into discrepancies at times with product information between manufacturers, distributors, etc. To have a team to call upon to pull one (or ten) from stock to verify what’s correct means we can be more accurate with our information from the start, ensuring that what you order is exactly what ends up in your hands. And when mistakes do happen, we can correct them immediately.
The KCDC is also home to a full-fledged photo studio, where Senior Photographer Ken Coit and his team shoot hundreds of products for the Musician’s Friend website and catalog—including those juicy glamour shots of our elite Private Reserve Guitars that we all lust over.
So while you might have thought that the gear we send you comes out of some dark and dusty warehouse, packed and shipped by machines, that’s not the case. We’re a company of musicians through and through, from the corporate office to the call center and KCDC. Even those who don’t play are honorary musicians, because they understand the passion that underlines everything we do—your passion for making music.