January 8, 2013

Demand The Best Service From Your Vendors

By Paul Bieber

In the glass industry we have four main vendor groups, glass, metal, supplies for glazing and non-glass vendors, such as insurances or office supplies. This week let’s talk about getting the best from your glass vendors. 

Dollars are tight in our industry.  Where and how you spend them are critical.  I have always felt that service is more important than price—when the vendors’ pricing is with a few per cent of each other.  Some other thoughts on working with your glass vendors:

  • You should give about 60-70 percent of your business to one glass vendor with the balance split between two or three specialty vendors.  Occaisonally shop around to keep your primary vendor honest on their pricing, but don’t argue about a nickel on every job.  
  • Give all of your low-volume low-e business to the same vendor.  This stops color-matching problems on job sites.  Do the same with your spandrel and mirror puchases.
  • Your best friend at your primary vendor is the shipping manager.  Speak with him or her frequently about your upcoming needs.  Give advance notice of job-sites or other special needs orders.  Just because you wrote your needs on your puchase order does not mean the shipping manager knows about them.
  • Your next best friend is the credit manager.  Yep.  Everybody is cash-tight now.  Keep a strong line of communications here to keep goods flowing.  Set up seperate accounts for your big-job work and pay for your day-to-day orders promptly.  Work out joint-payment programs on the big jobs.  A good glass vendor will work with you in these areas.
  • The sales team from your primary vendor should teach you new trends and products in the industry.  Sure, they are going to fight for every order for their company, but the best salespeople teach you how to sell more of their products, which is the best way to lock in your dollars flowing to them.  If you ask a salesperson, “What’s new in the trade?”, and they don’t have an answer, look for another sales person that can teach you.  Of course, the best place to learn this is USGlass Magazine!
  • You want your vendor to suggest alternates on glass quotes.  Have them quote you on exactly what the original spec is, and then, get alternates that may improve your bid.  Let their technical folks go with you to explain these alternates to your customer.  When your customer is asking for yesterday’s products, and you teach them about tomorrow’s, you, the customer and the vendor all come out ahead.

You want the basics from each vendor…on-time delivery, or advance notice of delays, high quality, complete orders, and the products that are what the customer ordered!  If you form a business partnership with your primary glass vendor, both of you looking to make sure each other succeed, you both will.