When concrete contractors think back on the jobs they've done, they can recall customers they'd like to work with again any time and others they would rather avoid, no matter how much money was offered. The same is true for ready-mix suppliers.
By learning how to be excellent ready-mix customers, concrete contractors are more likely to get prompt deliveries and perfect mixes every time and might even be offered better payment terms.
Plan your jobs
The best concrete contractor customers plan ahead. "They are the ones who realize that their time and our time is money, who are prepared when we show up on the jobs, who know the total yardage they need and who let us turn around our trucks quickly," says Ric Suzio, president of The L. Suzio Concrete Company. "They put their orders in in a timely fashion."
Suzio says other considerations that should be communicated in the planning stage are the speed of the pour, whether a buggy or pump will be used, and how far apart the concrete deliveries should be.
Timeliness for ordering might vary from one part of the country to another, depending on how busy construction work is locally and on the time of day the concrete is desired. Suzio says customers who want first-run orders, particularly during peak construction periods, should schedule their concrete a few weeks in advance. In geographic areas where construction is slow, a few days notice is probably adequate.
"The larger the project and the larger the delivery is, the more time we need," notes Dave Frentress, marketing director for Glacier Northwest. "For a 2,000-yd. pour, we need more time than a 200-yd. pour. It goes back to today's regulatory climate. If we're out of drivers' hours, we may have all the rock, sand and cement we need, but no drivers to get it there. That can be a real challenge operationally. We have a lot of jobs going and when we run out of driver hours, it's over. We have to schedule based on those regulations. Here we are with a plant loaded with materials and no way to get them to the customers. Those are government regulations and they're beyond our control. The contractors don't really understand that. Sometimes we have customers with big jobs to do but our hands are tied because our driver hours are used up."
John Hannon, president of Berks Products, notes, "Good contractors get our trucks in and out of the jobsite quickly. Idle trucks aren't profitable for the ready mix supplier. Delaying trucks on the jobsite causes further delays in the schedule for other deliveries." Showing ready-mix drivers the best routes for entering and exiting jobsites can also help suppliers.
Take pride in your work
Concrete contractors who do their work well get respect from ready-mix suppliers. "The best are quality contractors that do quality work with good reputations," notes Mike Kline, sales manager for Consumers Concrete Corporation. "It's the concrete contractor that is trying to elevate their industry and trying to put back into the industry to improve it. It's a person who has a passion for what they do, as we do, and who shares our passion for the industry. They have equipment that we like to have our equipment associated with. There's a genuine pride in what they do. They are professional enough to give plenty of notice and articulate enough to describe the job to us so we all know what we're up against. These are contractors that are quality driven and not price driven, where the quality of the materials is their first consideration."
Pay bills on time
Concrete contractors who pay their bills on time are popular with ready-mix suppliers. Each ready-mix supplier offers different terms. Some expect payment by the 20th of the month after purchase for all customers, while others offer terms based on a customer's credit history. At L. Suzio Concrete, payment may be due in 10 days for newer customers, while those with a long, positive credit history might be given 45 days to pay.