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Question for contractors

I was in the Wholesale business for 8 years. Don't believe the balony your Administration will inevitably tell you. Pricing matters but at the same time having the proper inventory is just as important. Make sure the contractors can count on you, that will take time. You will not win contractors over with just line cards and pricing. You will need to sell yourself and then follow through every time.


  • Mark D.
    Mark D. Member Posts: 8

    I am a wholesaler trying to promote my company, myself and my products in a new territory. I am thinking about designing a brochure to hand out to contractors to show them what I have to offer.

    What would catch your eye, and make you consider using a different supplier. Job pics, product pictures, pricing???

  • tommyoil
    tommyoil Member Posts: 613
    Customer Service

    is key to me. I'd promote that aspect among the others if in fact you have good customer service. Its nice to have everything that you order actually show up to the job sight (and not have it left in the middle of the street). Its also nice when the countermen/salesmen/company reps are actually schooled in their own products and can answer questions when you call. OR,when you DO call to have an actual person pick up the phone. If the price is a bit higher with outstanding customer service, I'd tend to shop there more often. Customer service seems to be a "Lost Art" in this world.
  • Bryan_16
    Bryan_16 Member Posts: 262
    I agree

    Having someone that can answer the phone and answer questions is a huge factor.
  • jackchips_2
    jackchips_2 Member Posts: 1,338

    worked in a company that purchases well over 5 million in PVF and fixtures for almost twenty years I can tell you that nothing beats the personal touch.

    All sales people who call on us on a regular basis, even just to ask what is going on and what can they do to help get the majority of our PO's.

    They do not make a pest of themselves. If our people are busy they just say hello, suggest we call or email if anything is needed and they come back next week.

    Sometimes it takes a while but it works.

    Call it the squeeky wheel syndrome if you want but it works.

    Oh, it helps to have the correct pricing too-LOL.

    Good luck, Mark.

  • John Starcher_4
    John Starcher_4 Member Posts: 794
    Good luck to you, Mark.

    I hope you are successful!!!!

    I would echo what others have already said here. SERVICE is what keeps me coming back to any particular supplier.

    Here is my list of things that aggravate me:

    Poor customer service

    Poor technical suppport

    Lack of training opportunities

    Inability to get product to me when I need it

    Selling to non-contractors

    Poorly handled billing and credits

    Lack of customer service

    Inability to reach a human being on the phone and getting trapped in voice mail hell

    Lack of return phone calls when I DO leave a voice message

    Poor customer service

    High pricing

    Notice that price is last on my list. It's the SERVICE that counts.
  • L Thiesen
    L Thiesen Member Posts: 54

    Amen, to what John said. Keep your word, if you don't have what I want, tell me on the phone when I call, not after I drive 30 minutes to your place to pick it up.
    I have six wholesaler houses in my area, all of them talk a good game but none of them follow up. This includes a couple of the biggest in the industry.
  • Ross_7
    Ross_7 Member Posts: 577

    Sounds like you just described one of local wholsalers. They wonder why people get mad at them, but they don't exactly go to bat for you when they need to. Customer service is HUGE!
  • Totally agree

    I agree wit hwhat John said. Also offer some type of basic design services, especially with mod/con boilers and radiant. If you can help contractors gain confidence in the products you are selling they will buy more from you.

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314

    Make sure you are backed by good delivery people. that is my pet peave. Do not show up at my door expecting to sit and bs at 8 am or noon. If you have a deal mail it to me call me and leave a message or email it. Not saying I am antisocial just I do not like bsing during work hours. If you can find me a line of american made fittings and other supplies let me know.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • John Vastyan
    John Vastyan Member Posts: 14
    value-added from the wholesaler

    I remember a story Dave Yates told me about a job he had miles from nowhere. They were having problems at a remote jobsite way the heck up at an exclusive mountain home 3 hours from the shop. He needed a critical materials delivery the next day (may've even been a Saturday!). The president of York Corrugating (the wholesaler) loaded up the truck and climbed the mountain, a 3-hour trip for him, too! I think I recall that there were challenges getting that truck up the steep pass to deliver those goods, but the mission was accomplished.

    Whenever Dave is asked about wholesaler service, that story inevitably gets told . . . and when Dave tells a story, it's a goodie. I'll bet he's told that story 300 times, and every time he does, his supplier looks like the Savior. I'm not suggesting that wholesale exec.s need to make a habit of delivering supplies. But in this instance, it somehow made sense to do it . . . maybe he just needed to get out of the office for the day, or to avoid painting the hallway at home ! Whatever the reason, that good deed, that remarkable moment, secured a relationship with Dave that's lasted a long time.

    Dan Foley tells stories like that about Skipper Joyce, the Joyce Agency (rep firm). You couldn't pry these guys away from their supplier.

    Extraordinary service is the key.
    John Vastyan

    Hydronics wannabe
  • service & inventory & trained sales force

    John scratched the surface. It was a large radiant order that had run late (from the mfgr - not the supply house). As the old saw goes: it was a dark and stormy night.... Literally - a driving rain in 40F temps. A night not fit for man nor beast & we had beasts to spare on that mountain-top job site. No lions or tigers, but a regular visit by bears, raccoons, porcupines & wild turkeys were common - too common for the bears in our opinion.

    The materials arrived at the supply house late in the week & they knew we needed them ASAP. Imagine our surprise when the owner of the supply house and his wife arrived - in the dark - in pouring rain - in miserable conditions - to deliver the goods. The Mrs. got out of that comfortable box-truck cab and got just as wet & muddy as everyone else. Service waaaayyyy above & beyond the call of duty & that was just one example of their dedication to exceptional service - an attitude that filtered down to all of their employees.

    Inventory - as mentioned above - is essential. Sell what you can believe in and stock a full range of parts to keep those products running. Our customers expect us to deliver the goods and don't like hearing "I can't get the part till next week". Manufacturers would do well to help wholesalers by providing a list of parts they should be stocking. Wholesalers would do well by giving that parts-inventory a free pass when it comes to penalties for 'turns'.

    Salespeople who are knowledgeable, polite and not BSers. Not overloaded with cologne would be good too.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 21,820
    Cliche free

    It drive me nuts when a salesperson calls you Bud, Dude, Pard (partner), Buddy, Amigo, etc. If they really want you business they should remember, or look up your name, first.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Rocky_3
    Rocky_3 Member Posts: 232
    Mr. Yates...

    I, too, have a story of a wholesaler going above and beyond. We had to install two Buderus boilers in a remote Alaskan village at the confluence of the Yukon and Tanana Rivers. My wholesaler who sold me the supplies for this job told me he wanted to help me install this system so he could get a better understanding of how all these components worked as a system; to better understand why I needed the things I needed. He drove with me in my pickup four hours out of Fairbanks, the last two over a HORRENDOUS, non-maintained gravel road, towing my river boat behind us to a remote village at the end of the road system.
    We launched my boat with all my tools, food, spare gas etc. at this village and drove the boat 85 miles downstream in a raging snowstorm to the confluence of the Yukon. We started in on the Buderuses (Buderi?)at the Tanana Village elder's home (an old folks home for the native elders of all the Yukon's many villages).
    My salesman worked right along with us for two and a half straight days, ripping out old monster boilers and piping and installing the Buderi, Caleffi Hydro Separators, pumps, piping etc.
    The first night we were there the small kitchen where they made food for the residents had a skinned moose skull sitting on the table. Still had the eyes, brains, tongue etc, just no hide. Second night it was still sitting there, on the table in this 75 degree room. Apparently they were going to have a potlatch for one of the elders the next day and they wanted to let the moose skull "ripen" a little to make a good moose-head soup. Yummie! After the job was finished, I sent the rest of my crew home on a single engine Cessna, while me and my salesmen saddled up the river boat and headed back upstream 85 miles to my truck. Then four hours back to Fairbanks. He did this all without pay, just so he could "understand my business" a little better.
    Do you reckon he gets about 95% of all my business? Ferguson has a good hand in Jason Trine and he's one of the main reasons they get my business.
    Warm regards from chilly Fairbanks,
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,489

    What a story!
    Retired and loving it.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314

    So how was the soup? That's what I want to know.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • A great way.....

    to lose weight! Lose with the Moose(G). My hat's off to both of you. That's one tough set of job circumstances & one dedicated supplier who delivered service way above & beyond. Love the Buderi term.
  • MIke_Jonas
    MIke_Jonas Member Posts: 209
    What I DON'T want...

    This has been my major beef with wholesalers in my area:

    I'll name names. Let's talk Buderus. Local wholesaler says if I sell more of their boilers, maybe they'd pay airfare to NH for training. I asked why they'd wait to school me until AFTER I sold their product. I went to NH on my own dime. Buderus picked up the hotel.

    I went back to this same wholesaler, asked for price and availability on a ST 150 dhw tank. We don't stock that. Why do you want that? Everyone else buys the S120, why do you want something different? Can't imagine why you'd want that tank.

    How many tanks does Buderus offer? 9? And they only keep one model on hand??? Then they insult me?

    I go to another wholesaler for panel rads. Two of every panel rad Buderus offers would fit in my dining room. This other wholesaler has hundreds of trucks, hundreds' of thousands' of sq ft of warehouse. We don't stock those.
    We can order them for you. No freight allowed, even if you wait for a stock order.

    I grew up with speed shops for car parts. If they hung out a sign they were a Mr Gasket dealer, they had the whole line ON HAND. They might, as a dealer, get stuck with a set of valve cover gaskets for a 63 rambler, but if you had a 63 Rambler, you knew you could walk into that store, and by-god they had what you needed.

    My point is, if you say you are a "so and so" dealer, then stock what they sell. If I have to wait 2 weeks, AND pay the freight AND pay the sales tax, WHY don't I just find someone on the internet that gives freight allowed and I don't have to wait but a couple days and I don't pay the sales tax?

    There are a ton of radiant manufacturers that I could list, that don't have their line handled at any one wholesaler. There's a line of valves I'd like to use. I go to their local "dealer". We don't have that valve, but we have these two. Why do you want that one? Everybody else buys these other two, why do you want something different?All of their valves would fit in my kitchen, and no one has the complete line.

    Years ago, in my forced air days, I talked to the Lennox rep. How many trucks ya got? One. How many ya lookin' ta hire? None, just me. I'll get back to ya'. I'm still waiting. Trane ignored me. They never asked if I did load calcs, combustion analysis, just how many boxes could I move. Armstrong flat out told me they need dealers that would be worth their while.

    I found one wholesaler, ONE!! that can answer my questions. If they can't, they hook me up with who can. That has every part for every boiler they sell, on the shelf. That does not insult me or talk down to me. That appreciates my business, no matter how small. They sent me to their factory training, paid the fee, paid the hotel and I hadn't even sold ONE boiler yet! I drive out of my way to buy from them. I can see (4) other wholesalers from my truck window on the way to these guys, and I drive right past them all, even if I only need a roll of t stat wire.

    And, before anyone says this is a not a wholesaler problem, that this is a manufacturers deal, ALL of the above was done through their local wholesalers.

    I hope you can find a nugget in this rant that will help you in your endeavor.

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  • Rocky_3
    Rocky_3 Member Posts: 232
    Moose lip soup...

    I conveniently found some other place to be when they served up the soup. "Oh, darn, you ALREADY served the Moose Lip soup? I was SO wanting a big, heaping, steaming bowl of fermented moose brains." Some of the things the traditional elders eat in these villages are just a wee bit different than you or I. But the folks were just as nice as they could be and very appreciative of our work. All fuel has to be barged in during the summer while the Yukon is open. Needless to say we have NO reason to complain about our fuel oil prices. They are paying in the vicinity of $8.00/gallon. Reckon two Buderi, a 100 gallon indirect, and an outdoor reset staging control along with proper piping and pumps made a difference? We literally cut their fuel bill in half, and gave them better comfort and more hot water at the same time. Its good to be the hero sometimes!
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