Cyber Monday, For Contractors?

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For a couple of years now I have been ordering job materials and truck stock for my plumbing and heating business online. One of the country’s largest wholesalers has paved the road for those looking to rid themselves of the city desk time restraints, and it works for me. [Name withheld intentionally; they take plenty of my money without any kickbacks, I’m not going to give them a free plug here.] As I see it, my business hours are not restricted to a simple timeframe. Most small shops, like mine, are available to their customers pretty much whenever the phone rings. Unfortunately, our suppliers are not.

Enter online materials ordering. It’s been a huge time saver for me in many ways. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the counter guys at the city desk. I like to chat about this or that; heck, one of my closest friends works the city desk. Therein lies part of the problem. Having a relationship with these ladies and gentleman is great but it also has you spending a little time here and a little time there shootin’ the breeze instead of fixing a boiler or stopping a leak. Sometimes this time is forced upon us while we wait for an order to be picked on a busy day, but time is money, right?

When I order materials for a job — usually for the next day or soon after — I can show up to the will call desk, grab and go. I usually stop to say hi or grab a coffee but I am always on my way in short time, on my way to the next job to make money, and not talk about last night’s game or the latest YouTube sensation (don’t act like you haven’t checked out what everyone’s talking about, we all do). Another great thing about ordering online is I can do it from my truck or my office; from my computer, phone or tablet, and I’m not put on hold or made to wait while the guy on the other end fumbles through one computer screen after another, trying to find what I’m looking for. I do this when it’s convenient for me, no matter the time or place.

Let’s face it: having someone back at the office [a luxury I don’t have these days] doing this for me would be great. Through my own experience with ordering materials online, I would insist that office personnel do just the same, opening up more time to bid jobs or schedule work rather than chit-chat with the salesperson on the phone all day to order some copper tubing and a couple toilet seats. Again, time is money, right? I hear guys say this all the time. I listen and learn from some of the best in the industry while sitting on trade councils or contractor associations. One thing I don’t hear them saying is they’re moving their business into this century. Well, I have and it works. Maybe this young go getter of a contractor could teach some of those guys/gals a thing or two? Maybe, and I’m trying.

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