November 28, 2023

Lead Times and Supply Chain Issues are Still Important

By Paul Daniels

I recently attended the Facades+ Los Angeles conference. This conference attracts architects and offers seminars and areas for vendors to showcase products.

The conference was well attended, and most of the people I met were architects or designers. I was surprised how often lead times came up in our conversations. They are still concerned with supply chain issues and how they affect projects. Several asked where our raw materials came from.

Lead times and product availability are among the most important parts of any sale. As we head into the holidays, it’s important to check with your vendors to ensure that their lead times are not affected by holiday shutdowns, both domestically and overseas. If they have problems obtaining raw materials because overseas suppliers have shut down for the New Year holidays, it will affect lead times even when the products are manufactured domestically.

Regarding expediting materials, freight and higher costs seem to take a back seat to “How fast can I get it.” You do not want to rely on stated lead times from old quotes or product flyers. This time of year, it’s important to double-check with your suppliers and get lead times in writing as part of your purchase order. Do not be afraid to offer expedited freight and charge the customer for it. This can be a lot less expensive than holding up a job. Just make sure that you include these costs on your quotes and invoices.

You also may want to increase your supply base by looking into other markets for products. If lead times are running high in your market for glass or aluminum, it may pay to look for suppliers in other markets that can get your product quicker even if the freight will increase costs. Offer your customers the choice of paying more for freight but receiving the products on schedule. You may be surprised that when it comes to reducing lead times, they understand it may cost more now, but save them a lot of money in the long run by keeping their project on schedule.