Communication lays the groundwork for a solid relationship.
Stay current on your account. It sounds obvious but sealer suppliers say it's possibly the most-important mistake many contractors make as the season progresses and as they wait for payment from their customers. There will be a day, and probably more than one, when you will need your supplier to do you a favor - deliver material, advance you material, open the yard early or stay late so you can buy a tank load - and those favors are much more difficult to ask (and easier to turn down) if your payables to the supplier are way behind schedule. "So the most important and honest answer would be to stay current with their accounts payable to the supplier," Purdy says.
Follow the manufacturer's specifications. "The manufacturer knows what the products' limitations are, how they should be applied, and where so the customer gets the desired results," Purdy says. "Contractors shouldn't be afraid to call the manufacturer with questions to get answers you don't know rather than assuming what the product can or can't do and have problems rear their ugly head on you."
Know who to contact at your supplier. This is not a problem in smaller locations or at local suppliers who operate lean when it comes to salespeople. "But at larger operations salespeople are often difficult to reach so contractors need to know who that person is and how to reach him," Vance says. "It is perfectly fine for contractors to be proactive in finding out who they should be conversing with and what the inter-dynamics of their supplier's business is. This will make for a stronger relationship for both and may reveal better insight as well." Vance suggests contractors contact suppliers early in the season to introduce themselves, to get a variety of contact options from the supplier, and to let the supplier know who you are.
Use and market the material the supplier is marketing. "The contractor should relay the same product message as the supplier or manufacturer," Purdy says. "If the contractor is promoting one product when the supplier in their market is advertising another product, that just makes it confusing for the end user and makes it more difficult to grow the market for both parties."
Work with the supplier (or manufacturer) on a warranty that makes sense for both of you. "If you have a few jobs that trigger some calls by the property owners, don't just assume it's the product's fault," Purdy says. "Keep detailed notes about the project when it was complete. When was the job done? What specific product was used? If mixing was required what mix design did you follow, etc. Be honest with the supplier so he knows what steps to take to help resolve the issue that will keep the customer happy with you."
Buy in bulk. Purdy urges all contractors that can justify buying material in bulk to add a tank to their yard and do it "at your highest affordable level. You will be able to get a better price per gallon, achieve better profit margins, and save time with fewer trips to the supplier, which saves you money as well," Purdy says.
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