Contracting is hard work. You can do all the research, read all the books, and do all the training possible, but you might still struggle to succeed in the industry. Despite your best efforts, missing just a couple of important pieces of information can spell disaster for your career or business. However, successful contractors have a few secrets that set them apart from less successful ones. Here are seven of those secrets that can make or break you as a contractor:
Secret One: Optimize Inventory
Most successful contractors probably already know this “secret.” Ask around. Every builder has been to a worksite where equipment and materials are disorganized, scattered around, and not protected well enough from the elements. It can throw the entire project into chaos. When workers don’t know where supplies are, it slows everything down. When they cannot determine how much of a material is available, they are likely to order more than necessary and waste money. These problems are difficult to prevent–that is why they are so common.
However, many overlook one solution: working with an experienced distributor can make a world of difference. With a good distributor, you can create a strategy to keep materials conveniently located near the installation area and delivered at the right time. Furthermore, an experienced contracting supply distributor can help supervisors break up deliveries into manageable increments. That makes inventory organization far easier without interrupting progress on the site while workers stop to accept inconveniently timed deliveries.
Secret Two: Don’t Shy Away From Repetition
The old saying “if it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times” has a lot of truth to it. Although many people are hesitant to use it, repetition is one of the best communication tools. Running a worksite well (and running a business well) requires good communication. Don’t be afraid to repeat information about delays, schedules, and delivery requirements. Sharing these crucial details early and often makes the whole team less likely to make order errors, miss deadlines, or run into delivery problems.
When projects start, include all stakeholders, supervisors, and workers in communications. Agree on scheduled check-ins, making sure to check in as often as possible. This allows problems to be identified early before they spiral out of control. It allows adjustments to be made at the right time and makes the whole project play out a lot more smoothly. Don’t be afraid to repeat needs, rules, goals, and guidelines on every vendor call and team meeting.
Secret Three: Share the Construction Schedule
Creating detailed construction schedules takes a lot of time and energy. But unless the suppliers and subcontractors know about those schedules, it will be impossible to meet deadlines. Most importantly, make sure to share the entire timeline with the building supply distributor. That lets them get involved and work as a part of the team to phase orders properly, show up when and where they are most needed, plan ahead, deliver materials in one piece, and make recommendations that maximize efficiency.
Even if it isn’t clear precisely when supplies will be required, a good contracting supply distributor can still help. They can work with you to flesh out a timeline by reviewing similar construction projects in the area with the same size and scope and recommend the best plan to help complete the job. In addition, since an experienced distributor will know the contracting and construction industry well, they can help clients understand what has and has not worked.
Secret Four: Understand Phasing
Contractors–especially those working in densely populated urban areas–often work with limited spaces. If that’s the case, phasing can be a great strategy to save time and money. This is a secret that many contractors may not know. With phasing, supply distributors customize “bundle” deliveries. These bundles can have all the supplies necessary for a phase of the project or a specific floor or area of the build. When the distributor and contractor work together on pre-work, everyone wins. Phasing makes it easier for the distributor to organize deliveries, and it makes the project easier for you too. This approach makes it simpler for you to keep track of inventory, manage worksites, and reduce waste production (and therefore reduce waste hauling).
Secret Five: Embrace Teamwork
A site superintendent’s or supervisor’s most critical responsibility is to keep the project on schedule. But they shouldn’t have to do it on their own. Instead, supervisors need to ensure all subcontractors, stakeholders, and suppliers work together smoothly. Many contractors understand the need for teamwork, but the importance of this secret really cannot be understated. When teams are harmoniously progressing on a project, they can create contingency plans, avoid delays, and coordinate to identify problems before they happen.
Secret Six: Stage and Storage
This secret may surprise you. To many, bulk shipments can seem like a great way to save time up front. However, when bulk shipments have project supplies necessary for different job phases, it can slow things down significantly. The time it takes to sort and stage supplies can seriously set back progress, and it can even heighten the risk of damaging materials. A good building supply distributor can set up deliveries as product kits, making supply deliveries when and where the contractor needs to use them.
Secret Seven: Choose the Right Building Supply Distributor
A distributor that merely takes orders can waste time and money. If they aren’t asking clarifying questions to get their instructions totally right, if they aren’t actively participating in the project or aren’t working as a member of your team, they aren’t doing their job. Having a distributor that truly acts as a partner makes every job a little bit easier. Look for a distributor who knows how to help you use your worksite, materials, time, and budget as efficiently as possible. Look for an experienced distributor that understands how to transport materials in one piece–a distributor that can deliver to an undeveloped pad site or neighborhood packed with high rises just as easily.
At Metro, all sales representatives are experts on what they sell. Metro can help you choose the ideal materials for your projects and keep your work under budget through diligent value engineering strategies. Contact Metro today to discover how we can help you succeed.