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Contractor question: If a new wholesaler opened in your town

DanHolohan
DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,521
What would they have to do to win your business? Just being curious. Thanks.
Retired and loving it.

Comments

  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,285
    Hi Dan, I'd love to see them actually keep a good stock of parts. My local suppliers keep paring down what they inventory based on what sells fast. Price matters, but knowing they will have what I need quickly is more important.

    Yours, Larry
    realliveplumber
  • Daveinscranton
    Daveinscranton Member Posts: 148
    Honest.  Good communication.  Promises kept. Fair on pricing.  

    All the stuff that make for a successful business everywhere.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506
    Inventory, delivery service like auto parts stores to auto shops.
    steve
    EdTheHeaterManJohnNY
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,836
    Loyalty and price. I’ll pay a small % more at a store that takes care of me. 
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,817
    edited January 2022
    In a small area called Clermont, in Dennis Twp. NJ, Cape May County, Just open up and let us know where you are. I needed to travel 45 minutes to 1 hour, to the closest supply house (near Atlantic City) if I needed it NOW! Otherwise wait for the next delivery day.

    A company with 4 locations opened up in Clermont, NJ and became very successful for the Plumbers and HVAC trade in my neighborhood. Sometimes you just need to find a location where there is a void and a need.

    Prices were right, inventory was just a little better than OK, Customer service was great. I called to see if there was an item in stock so I could drive and get it, The counter man said "where are you? I'll bring it right over."

    I was not used to that kind of service from the other suppliers. I purchased stuff from them even if I could save 1 or 2 percent elsewear. Sometimes it's not the lowest price, but the customer service that makes the difference.

    Mr.Ed

    PS, Does anyone remember Doc Rusk? Successful HVAC contractor from midwest. He sold a course on how to be successful using the "Doc Rusk" way of doing business. Basically how to start to sell service agreements from scratch. How to set up truck inventory so you have more "one stop" service calls. How to monitor your books to see if you are making a profit. He had a ton of good ideas. The one I used a lot was this:

    If you have a no heat, and you don't have the part, you could offer the customer the option of same day repair or we will be back tomorrow at a lower cost. If the customer chose Same Day, You would call the supplier to see where the part was, Then call a taxi cab to pick up the part and deliver it to the customers home without any price on the paperwork and go to your next service call. After you finish the next call you could return to the customer after the part was delivered, and this way you made money while someone else did the driving to get the part.

    I had a Charge account with a Taxi Company that was located near the Atlantic City Supply houses. So I could just call them and they could leave the part without needing to be there to pay the taxi.

    I wonder if there is an opportunity here for "UBER PARTS"
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    mattmia2BobC
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,521
    @pecmsg, how much of a %? They would probably want to know that when they were setting up in your town.

    And can you say a bit more about loyalty. What does that me to you in terms of the supplier?

    Thanks!
    Retired and loving it.
    Hap_Hazzard
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,521
    @EdTheHeaterMan, that's impressive!
    Retired and loving it.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,817

    @EdTheHeaterMan, that's impressive!

    Thanks Dan

    Look at my edit
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,521
    Even better, Ed! Thanks. 
    Retired and loving it.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • Tom_133
    Tom_133 Member Posts: 884
    Under promise, over deliver. I get that a little up here, but they are 45 mins away one way, its a bummer to start your day off with that trip, but at times its worth it. They try really hard, and thats all I ask for.
    Tom
    Montpelier Vt
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,055
    Include all mentioned above, but also handling returns.
    Over 40 years of dealing with wholesalers I have lost a lot by returning some items and they are never heard of again.
    Today with branches connected by computer, there should be no problem with some item ordered from one branch and returned to another.
    But still some items take up to 30 days or more to see a credit.
    It seems someone higher up has to review the return.

    My closest supplier is 100 miles away, so everything must be delivered by some method.

    There are deliveries from a HVAC/plumbing house 2 times a week for a $5 drop fee.
    2 different electrical companies deliver each week.
    Some will take your order to the electrical house for them to deliver to me.
    Something you do not want to abuse. But works good for heating emergencies.

    Johnstone has the best return policy, if I walk in with an item to return, they enter it and print out a credit, that applies to the account, on the spot.
    But that is 220 miles away, might get there twice a year.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,103
    would this wholesaler also be an e-commerce business?
    Having direct access to the manufacturer and a 1 to 2 day delivery of non stock is key

    I doubt any brick and mortar shop could inventory enough if everything even with deep pockets.
    The bar has been set with the “Amazon” model of doing business

    Of course currently the inventory isn’t available to be had at any price or level if service

    With  the possible exception of some Italian brass😉
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,836
    @DanHolohan
    2 maybe 5 %

    Hard to say.

    United opened a branch in Westhampton beach. There the better part of 10% + or - above ABCO and Sid's.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,510
    Most of the "old timey" supply houses are gone now. You used to have relationships with counter guys etc. Now it's mostly all the big chains, and they don't give a crap especially about the small guys. Your just a number and you don't buy enough to get there attention if your small.

    There is 1 HVAC supplier in our area that probably has 15 locations in the North East. They are pretty good, they stock a lot of stuff, they will leave parts hidden in the bushes if you can't get there for closing, they have deliveries, but they don't sell plumbing unless it's heating related (no sinks but have heating stuff). There prices ar not cheap so your paying for the service they provide .............which is fair.

    One of the big chain suppliers with multiple locations have some type of rule that "if a part sits on their shelf for a month and does not sell" they send it back to their warehouse. They are supposed to be the biggest and the best but their stock is poor, if you need it that day they may not have it. I went in to get a gauge glass set up with the valves....no gots. Took me 5 min to explain to them what I wanted and the counter person had to ask 2 others what it was. They told me "we don't stock those, go look over their and see if you can make one up out of loose parts" I walked out the door. Biggest supplier in the NE. Starts with an F and ends with a b

    If I was in business now I would order from an online supplier but buy enough from the local guy so they know you and remember your face
  • offdutytech
    offdutytech Member Posts: 133
    More like the Amazon model of supply would be helpful. Supply House is the closest to this with most stuff in stock and on my door step the next day. However there are times when same day service is needed on parts. A small % higher for parts is an easy sell when you need parts fast. Much cheaper than absorbing the overhead cost on parts that ride on around on a service van for a chance you might need them.  
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,110
    In all truth ,I m small fries and there’s really nothing they can do for me except promise and under deliver . I ve been dealing mostly w 2 supply houses .from all the years in the business n in business for myself I find they promise but if your not doing half a million there promises are void . I ve been dealing w the same 2 places for over 25 years mim . One even dan foley has used and he s in va .. I am stupid loyal to my supply house they never have over promised and under delivered in close to 30 years ,they have dropped everything and gotten material to me within a hour this would never happen w any other supply house and yeah there prices are a bit higher but the service is beyond all other supply houses empty promises . If they where not a real deal supply house I would not deal w them also I’m not a number to them I,ve know the owner for over 30 some odd years and they basically always make me feel welcome the moment I walk in the door . I pass the name along to others any time they ask and I ask why would you drop ur supply house for a new guy in town just over saving a few bucks ? Not me I figure my loyalty to one non cooperate supply house is my good deed to help a small business keep a roof and food on the table for there employees not raise the stock price . But this is me and I really don’t split pennies on material purchases or job pricing plus I figure everybody has to make a living and I de rather help someone that maintains the same employees for decades over some cooperate place where I am A number but so are the employees ,this is not my style and I feel it helps no one being corporate is always looking to cut over head to give themselves a bonus while usually in a under handed way stick it to the lower non management employees ,theres really no winning me over plus I’m getting to the down hill slide portion of life so all the filters are gone ,the only one left is the truth as I see it as it seemly never changes . Great question Mr H and a happy new year
    Peace n good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,521
    @clammy, that is a terrific answer, and truly from the heart. Thanks.
    Retired and loving it.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,477
    There is a small hardware store a few blocks from my house that costs more than HD or Lowes but they usually have what I want and you can get in and out fast.

    There is a Curries hardware at the west end of the city that is a superlative store, great stock and knowledgeable people, they always have what you want on the shelf. They are just down the street from Home Depot and there business got better when HD mover in because of the service they give.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,904
    For me, it comes down to pricing and availability. 98% of my work is either new or swap radiant floor, zero service so there is always time to plan ahead and have what I need on hand. I have been caught a few times without the right things and it usually is easier to hit the hardware store or big box instead of trying to find a wholesale house. So with that said, my boilers are really the only thing I buy from the wholesale house anymore because they never stock the right fittings and the pumps, expansion tanks, etc are always grossly overpriced. I'd happily pay 10% more to shop local if they had everything, but they don't. It's nearly impossible for a brick and mortar store to have everything for everybody, and I understand that, so I prefer to do most of my small parts shopping online both for ease and cost savings.
    Derheatmeister
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506
    hot_rod said:

    would this wholesaler also be an e-commerce business?
    Having direct access to the manufacturer and a 1 to 2 day delivery of non stock is key

    I doubt any brick and mortar shop could inventory enough if everything even with deep pockets.
    The bar has been set with the “Amazon” model of doing business

    Of course currently the inventory isn’t available to be had at any price or level if service

    With  the possible exception of some Italian brass😉

    Yeah but brick and mortar local shops could partner with supplyhouse.com as a walk in distribution point for a customer.
    steve
    Corktown
  • PlumbDog
    PlumbDog Member Posts: 3
    Exceptional service is King, then product line and cost last. We have multiple suppliers in our area and I will pay a little more, drive a bit further for good service.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,622
    See this post. When someone comes in with something like this, be prepared to give the 20,000 ft overview of why this is a project for an well experienced professional, not just the we won't sell it to you. The sort of attitude i get from some supply houses is why i will pay freight to ship from someplace I can order online wen i do need something that otherwise would be an easy sale from the local supply house.

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/186558/honeywell-3-4-valve-replacement#latest
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,103
    clammy said:
    In all truth ,I m small fries and there’s really nothing they can do for me except promise and under deliver . I ve been dealing mostly w 2 supply houses .from all the years in the business n in business for myself I find they promise but if your not doing half a million there promises are void . I ve been dealing w the same 2 places for over 25 years mim . One even dan foley has used and he s in va .. I am stupid loyal to my supply house they never have over promised and under delivered in close to 30 years ,they have dropped everything and gotten material to me within a hour this would never happen w any other supply house and yeah there prices are a bit higher but the service is beyond all other supply houses empty promises . If they where not a real deal supply house I would not deal w them also I’m not a number to them I,ve know the owner for over 30 some odd years and they basically always make me feel welcome the moment I walk in the door . I pass the name along to others any time they ask and I ask why would you drop ur supply house for a new guy in town just over saving a few bucks ? Not me I figure my loyalty to one non cooperate supply house is my good deed to help a small business keep a roof and food on the table for there employees not raise the stock price . But this is me and I really don’t split pennies on material purchases or job pricing plus I figure everybody has to make a living and I de rather help someone that maintains the same employees for decades over some cooperate place where I am A number but so are the employees ,this is not my style and I feel it helps no one being corporate is always looking to cut over head to give themselves a bonus while usually in a under handed way stick it to the lower non management employees ,theres really no winning me over plus I’m getting to the down hill slide portion of life so all the filters are gone ,the only one left is the truth as I see it as it seemly never changes . Great question Mr H and a happy new year Peace n good luck clammy
    And they throw a great customer appreciation party.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,103
    With the large chain operation and even the small single branch suppliers it the attitude and training and the managers leadership.

    I’ve been in hundreds of supply houses across the US and Canada for 15 years now. There are still plenty of hard working, knowledgeable men and women in the business.

    it takes years and $$ commitment to get counter and sales staff up to speed on thousands of items they sell. Like every other industry they struggle to find able bodied, willing to learn employees.

    when you find a good one like @clammy has, treat them well and they will do the same for you.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream