Take time over this part of the process, visit building sites, building centres, speak to the sales clerks even the managers if you can, try to create a personal relationship with the people with whom you will be dealing.
Visit building centres, there are many good centres all over South Africa where you will find everything in a one-stop shop from sanitary fittings to wood, nails and screws. [Here I will have a link to the different building centres in South Africa].
In our local area, for instance, there is a hardware store that’s been there since I was a child, my dad used to get all his bits and pieces there, they know me by name and I can get just about any information on anything I need to know. I trust these guys with the information they give me and I know I will get great service from them and if I run into a problem, I am certain a phone call will sort it out right away. Being local, in a small neighbourhood, it may cost a little extra, but I am prepared to pay for that attention to detail I know I will get.
That’s the kind of relationship you want to develop. Sit down with the manager, tell him what you are doing, get his input and advice, you will find this will go a long way to assisting you when you need to get hold of someone in authority in a hurry and when you need a problem resolved pronto!
You may elect to use several different suppliers, especially if you are owner building. For each supplier, consider the following questions and get those all-important answers. Develop relationships.
This will go a long way to assisting you in making the right decision.
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When selecting a supplier consider:
- Is their location near your site?
- Are you dealing directly with the manufacturer or distributor?
- How can you limit the number of suppliers with whom you deal?
- Are you able to open a builder’s account?
- What's the size of the company?
- What's the condition of the supplier's yard/warehouse/shop?
- Can you sense turnover rate of sales staff?
- What is the quality range of products being sold in store?
- What type of warranty/guarantee is being offered?
- Will installation instructions be immediately available?
- Who provides customer service: supplier or manufacturer?
- Can unused material be returned for a credit?
- How do costs compare to the competition?
- Are discounts offered for early payments?
- Is itemised billing offered?
- Can the supplier refer you to good installers and service providers?
- Are the installers independent contractors or employees?
- Who else shops at this business?
- Who makes the delivery? Is there an extra charge?
- Who returns damaged goods?
- What is the supplier's system for quality control?
- Is a standard form used by supplier with a purchase agreement written on the reverse side in tiny print? What does it say? Watch out for the Latin bits! Don't sign anything that you don’t completely understand.
Discuss all concerns and questions with your various suppliers, then take time to weigh and consider the possibilities. You cannot be careful enough about this stage of the proceedings. It will save a lot of time in the long run.
You must state your terms clearly (and most times in writing) then assert your position at the time of purchase in the store as well as delivery at your site.
Copyright exists. Reproduced with kind permission of Tom Landis of OwnerBuilder.com.