In the 1960s, a U.S. politician famously announced, “There is a Chinese curse which says, ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty, but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.”
Anyone who lived through the 1960s (and can actually remember them) knows that this decade was certainly, um, interesting. 2020 and 2021 have also proven to be exceptionally interesting times, but as often occurs in times of change and turmoil, opportunities abound for those interested in renewal, revision, and growth.
While change can feel uncomfortable, it is also full of potential. If builders can find partners and suppliers they can trust and use their resources to create a network that stabilizes their business, they can become well-positioned for rapid growth.
How to Find Partners You Can Trust
Metro knows it’s not easy to find trusted partners. These days everyone has an excuse for missing deadlines or not delivering on their promises, and many of those excuses seem pretty legitimate. But even with good rationales, delays and broken promised end up costing builders money. However, the are some questions you can ask upfront to evaluate your choices and minimize your risk.
Does Your Building Supplies Distributor Deliver on Time, Every Time?
Coordinating a building site is no joke. Everything has to be planned, timed, and executed on schedule, or the project runs behind schedule, and the contractor loses money. When building supplies are delivered late, even by one hour, it can screw up construction schedules in complicated and expensive ways. A building supplier should be on time, and they should stay in communication with your construction crew throughout the delivery process. If they don’t communicate, you can bet there will be problems.
Does This Building Supplies Resource Maintain a Reliable Fleet?
A dependable building supplies distributor should have a well-maintained fleet of delivery trucks. Trucks should be in good shape, and drivers should be experienced and able to handle difficult turns and tricky maneuvers.
Good building suppliers will also have booms available if deliveries require heavy materials to be hoisted up or put into place upon arrival.
Do They Have a Good Reputation?
There are lots of ways to research a firm’s reputation. Ask for references. Look at their Google Reviews. Ask your colleagues and other contractors about their reputation. Research them online to see what people are saying about them. Are they reliable? Will they keep their promise?
Can They Customize Your Building Supplies Order?
What happens when you need things customized? Is your building supplies distributor helpful or uninterested? Ask if the distributor has the equipment and experienced manpower to custom cut tiles to order. Can they provide custom sizes or edges? What about acoustical ceiling trim? Will they cut your order to work with your job site?
Even if your firm doesn’t need custom cutting, kitting is an excellent way to keep your order neat, organized, and ready to use in the order you need it. Ask your supplier about their kitting abilities.
What Happens When There are Shortages or Stocking Issues?
According to the NAHB, over 90% of contractors are reporting scarcity of building supplies. However, Americans are not used to privation, and many builders and their clients are angry to discover that these shortages are driving prices up.
While no business can eliminate these issues, your business supplies distributor should act as a partner who helps their clients get through tough times by keeping them informed. Your building supply distributor should be upfront about backorders, delays, or a history of missed orders with manufacturers.
Your personal contact, your sales rep, should be honest about delayed materials or the likelihood of delays. For orders that are typically hard to get, an experienced sales rep can make recommendations on other brands or products to use
And finally, your building supplies distributor should never promise what they can’t deliver.
Make Sure They Ask You as Many Questions as You Ask Them
When it comes to building supplies, you shouldn’t be the only one asking questions. Of course, taking an order is always job one for any sales rep, but your supplier should also be asking you questions about timing, your construction schedule, delivery instructions, potential items that might delay a delivery (such as conflicting delivery schedules, building routines, neighborhood garbage routes, parking challenges, locked bay doors, etc.)
And finally, your supplier should always have your best interests in mind. They should ask you about your ability to substitute brand names (especially if those substitutions save you money without sacrificing quality.)