These days, suppliers can do much more than deliver products. They can anticipate a contractor’s needs and make it easier and more profitable to run a contracting business.

Of course, that’s not true of all suppliers. Some are better equipped than others to meet your needs in today’s competitive marketplace.

Ask these five questions to ensure that your supplier is delivering more than just materials and that they’re also building your business.

1. How do you ensure my orders are accurate?

Inaccurate orders delay projects, sideline subcontractors and increase costs — a frustration easily avoided when working with the right supplier. To make sure you get exactly what you need for the job, some suppliers are leveraging technology that not only generates precise material lists but also streamlines the ordering process. Some suppliers are equipped with advanced takeoff technology that itemizes your order based on uploaded blueprints within 24 hours. That means you can get a reliable list in roughly half the time. As always, it is recommended that the contractors get eyes on the estimated take-offs to ensure the products selection and quantities are consistent with their installation practices. Bye-bye manual data entry.

2. How can you give my business a competitive edge?

Suppliers can give contractors a leg up through value engineering and pricing stability. Value engineering involves exploring alternative products or materials that offer cost savings without compromising quality. Say a project specifies PVC siding. Your supplier may be able to suggest comparable products that would meet your needs and your budget.

3. How do you ensure preferred materials are available?

Suppliers can analyze historical demand patterns and market trends to proactively manage inventory. Some leverage nationwide networks to ensure local branches are well stocked. But to make sure they have what you need when you need it, you should do some forecasting of your own. By providing your supplier with project timelines and material requirements 30, 60 or 90 days in advance, you’ll help curb the risk of product shortages or delays.

4. What is your return policy?

Look for policies that offer some flexibility and reasonable timeframes. A supplier's commitment to customer satisfaction through hassle-free returns and efficient processing reflects their reliability and commitment to your business. Even better: not needing to return anything because your order was accurate to begin with. That’s why it’s important to work with suppliers that can generate accurate takeoffs.

5. How are you making ordering faster, easier?

With some suppliers, procuring materials is as easy as ordering a cup of coffee. Suppliers with mobile apps, like myABCsupply, offer user-friendly interfaces, enabling contractors to order 24/7, track deliveries in real time and pick up materials on their schedules. Customizable features like order templates streamline repetitive purchases, saving time and effort.

ABC Supply is a one-stop solution that prioritizes time efficiency, technology, pricing stability and collaborative forecasting to not only meet contractors’ immediate needs but also drive long-term success. Click here to learn more about our capabilities.