Construction: Vendor Relations & Purchasing
For those in the business of building, a lot of work happens backstage before bulldozers begin to rumble. Most importantly, contractors and subcontractors need reliable vendors. If for only this reason, construction professionals should fully know their suppliers and work to establish strong vendor relationships. But there are other factors to consider, too.
Waiting for Vendors to Deliver
Construction crews generally do not like any surprises when it comes to material delivery. With weather and other uncontrollable factors a constant risk, contractors receive little wiggle room in terms of scheduling. Research suggests that contractors can lose upwards of 30 percent of building time during a project. Even more startling, three-quarters of this lost time is the direct result of material logistics.
When selecting a vendor, professionals in the industry should hold a good turnaround record as high – or sometimes higher – than cheap prices. Low-cost materials don’t make a difference if they’re collecting dust at the vendor’s storage facility rather than being put to use at the project site.
Contractors need to remember that much of their reputation hinges on their ability to complete work in a timely manner. While larger vending operations might charge a bit more, their numerous warehouse locations make it more likely products will arrive faster – a value in itself. In addition, consumer loyalty goes a long way in a vendor’s eyes.
When a contractor repeatedly places big orders with the same materials operation, that supplier is more likely to be flexible with scheduling – and more willing to bargain. And with national and foreign demand for materials ever growing, it’s never bad to get on a distributor’s priority list.
Vendors on the Internet Highway
The minute contractors win a bid, they must start planning. To expedite the process, many material vendors now offer online catalogues through their websites. In most instances, these virtual warehouses allow the construction professional to browse through page after page of supplies. Visitors can pick and choose what they want to add to their shopping cart with a simple click of the mouse key. Some sites keep credit card information and the transaction history of repeat customers, letting the contractor make purchases on the fly without the hassle of order forms.
In addition, these online stores tend to let contractors edit their orders up to a certain time. Just like bricks and mortar hardware outlets, these sites hold frequent sales and specials based on bulk purchases. They serve as the perfect solution for construction firms and contractors lacking the time, or just not wanting to go through a sales representative.
Inventory Equals Purchasing Clout
The construction business is one of measurements and numbers. Poor math could lead to big financial problems – particularly when figuring out what supplies are needed for a job. Since each project requires different types and amounts of materials, contractors must constantly estimate what it will take to build a structure.
As is so often the case, many construction businesses end up with leftovers at a project’s end. To chisel away at some of the fiscal waste, certain software companies now offer programs that calculate order volume based on individual projects. Manufacturers commonly sell materials like lumber and steel in standard lengths, with pricing based on size. This software helps contractors to mathematically determine how to get the most for their buck, allowing them to bid more competitively.
Some vendors have incorporated similar concepts on their websites to bolster consumer relations. When dealing with aggregates such as concrete and asphalt, no formula is set in stone. But to make the purchasing process a bit easier, certain distributors now provide material calculators.
For example, the contractor enters in the width and length of the floor plan, coupled with the thickness of the foundation mold. The calculator then crunches the dimensions and returns with an order size. These free tools definitely help, especially those first-time contractors and folks new to the construction field.