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Will your vendor let you down? 4 vital questions to ask

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Will your vendor let you down? 4 vital questions to ask

TAMLYN | June 19, 2019

You spend a lot of thought specifying or installing the right product for the application.

But if that product does not arrive at the jobsite at the right time, in the right amounts, in good condition, then catastrophes can follow, from ruined materials delivered too early, to lost work days, crew frustration, missed deadlines, and even to lawsuits.

Logistics matter. To determine if your vendor has the right stuff to deliver what the crew needs at the right time and in good condition, here are four vital questions to ask:


1. Does the vendor maintain a well-stocked warehouse of inventory?

We’ve all seen the small print: “Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.” And in some cases that might be fine. The contractor may be ultra organized and the stars and the moon might be in alignment and maybe nothing goes wrong. But of course, most building projects don’t work like that. Last minute decisions are made. Minds change. Timelines change. In some cases, you may need a product by the end the week. What will your vendor do? What will you do? Delay the project 6 to 8 weeks? Or start over with a different product?

To prevent logistical nightmares when normal life happens, choose a vendor that maintains a well-stocked warehouse full of inventory that be delivered quickly as needed. That will remove a headache before it even starts.


2. Will the vendor ship overnight if necessary?

In some cases, for unforeseen reasons, materials need to be on the jobsite the very next day. It might be a day when the previous trades have done their jobs getting the building ready for the new material to be installed. The crew is ready with tools in hand. The weather is cooperating. But where is the material? Multitudes of problems and financial distress can be avoided if the vendor is willing and able to ship overnight if necessary. Look at the small print or ask a rep: Will you ship overnight if necessary?

If a vendor says that “We’re not set up to ship overnight,” consider that fair warning that the vendor might let you down. To remove chances for disaster with an unforeseen problem where overnight delivery is critical, choose a vendor that says “No problem!” to shipping overnight.


3. Does the vendor have a fleet of delivery trucks?

So many factors go into getting the right materials to the job at the right time. One of the impediments should not be the excuse that the trucking company that makes deliveries is overbooked. Ideally, the vendor maintains its own fleet of delivery trucks, making that company nimble and flexible to serve the needs of building projects and their varying schedules.

Ask the vendor: Who takes care of delivery? If the vendor has a fleet of trucks, that is one less worry about getting the materials on the jobsite.


4. Is the product packaged securely to endure the elements?

Even when products are delivered properly on time, there can be last-minute delays in a previous phase that require the product to be stored on the jobsite longer than anticipated. Because most jobsites don’t include a clean, dry, climate-controlled storage area for such instances, what will become of the products on the site awaiting installation longer than planned? Ideally the materials are securely packaged to resist environmental and even delivery-related damages. Then, when the moment arrives when the materials are needed to continue the building process, they are undamaged and ready to be installed.

Ask the vendor about the kind of packaging used for the products that will be delivered to the jobsite. If no or minimal packaging is used, be wary.

By asking your potential vendor about their delivery and logistical policies, you can prevent many future problems. If you don’t ask these questions, considered yourself warned.

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