Resource Strategies: Managing Materials and Vendors

Resource Strategies: Managing Materials and Vendors

Reviewing specifications, the contractor generates a list of supplies, materials, and equipment.  Some contractors begin immediately calling suppliers and vendors.  The experienced contractor will call the design professional and client to ask for a meeting to discuss the list.

Reviewing the list with the design professional and client does three things:  1.) reassures them that the contractor is a professional, interested in producing a successful project,  2.) alerts the contractor to special concerns shared by professional and client, and 3.) the contractor learns of possible alternates to specified items.  With a clear understanding of design objectives and concerns, the contractor will be able to place orders with fewer obstacles and be able to remediate mishaps.  Since he also knows which items on the list are of particular interest to professional and client, he’ll know where to focus extra efforts to ensure that products will meet quality and performance requirements.

From this point forward, the contractor’s job is to find supplies, materials, and equipment that meet specifications.  If he is familiar with supplies and has a dependable supplier, his job is made easier.  If there are materials and equipment on the list with which he is unfamiliar, it calls for research.  Today, research is readily accomplished with an online search.  If the contractor has found a general distributor online he’ll head to that site to learn how many items on his list may be ordered here.  The experienced contractor will have a list of distributors who will handle most usual items and who will have representatives available to assist the contractor.

However, just because he has found the specialty items on the list is no assurance that they meet the quality and performance standards, nor has he found a local resource from whom to purchase.

Occasionally the design professional is well acquainted with the manufacturer and can guide the contractor to a website in the specifications.  With a heads-up, the contractor is able to find the nearest distributor.  Regarding  specialty items, the contractor must obtain samples for verification and approval—easily done with most finishing materials.  However, with such things as lighting fixtures, fireplace mantels, quarried stone countertops, venetian blinds, specially designed doors and windows, for instance, the contractor will personally call on distributors to test quality under first-hand conditions, and, at the same time, be diligent about collecting warranty information.

Lead Time
Lead-time on delivery is another factor on which the contractor should focus.  Many projects have suffered delays when 1.) the contractor has overlooked a lead-time deadline, or 2.) the vendor has encountered an unavoidable delay.  In each case the loss of time will need to be rectified.  The contractor has two choices:  1.) contact another vendor and request a rush order, or 2.) contact the design professional and the client to inform them of the delay and request a substitute for the item.

Implementing effective communications, using an orderly approach when researching specialty items and ensuring vendor lead-time and delivery dependability, are procedures that will support the contractor’s goals.  Exceeding expectations will earn the contractor extra points from the design professional, particularly if the professional doesn’t hear about any problems the contractor might have encountered.

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