It’s creeping up to Christmas and the rate at which customers are scrambling to get their orders in before deliveries stop are starting edge higher to a crescendo. The end result? Lead times are probably higher now than they are throughout the rest of the year. So that leads me to this question: how long should a lead time be?

This is a question that is of course very much dependent on the product being sold. We have seen a very radical and different approach in the composite door market. Door-Stop International are making and delivering doors in 3 days. Solidor are delivering their wares in 10 days. Up until composite doors arrived on the market such small lead times were unheard of. At first they seemed impressive. They did to me. But spend 5 minutes analysing the fitting schedules of most installation companies and the need for a door in 3 days isn’t really required. Yes it is handy to call upon a 3 day lead time if you get that one-off really urgent job where someone may have been burgled. But other than that I see no need for it. For me, I would prefer a longer lead, say 10 days or more, so that manufacture takes a little more time, with a greater focus on quality control. Just my thoughts.

Then on the other hand there are products out there, such as aluminium and timber products which come on a much longer lead time. Bereco, the timber window specialists, currently have a lead time of 6-8 weeks, some out there are longer than that. I am on the fence with this one. On one hand, when paying for high end, expensive, bespoke products, there is a degree of expectation that there will be a fairly longer lead time. On the other hand, with so many modern manufacturing processes, is a lead time that stretches to 12 weeks too long in this day and age? I think there are grounds for that argument too.

In the middle sits the products that are produced on mass i.e. PVCu windows, with many suppliers churning out 1500 frames a week at 3-4 week lead time – which probably satisfies most installation companies.

So, how long should a lead time be? Is 3 days too quick? If it is too short does quality and service suffer? Is a 3 month wait for new windows and doors too long, no matter how much you have paid for them? All comments on this one are welcome in the section below.