I'm curious about your experience with suppliers. It seems like different salespeople at the same supplier give you different prices for identical items. I'm not talking about market price for copper, but things like a duplex, or steel box. I talk with Joe & it's 50 cents, I talk with Jim & it's 75 cents. My only defense seems to be to request a quote for every little thing. One supplier will charge me $5, but if I get it at the counter without a quote it seems to be $7 instead of $5.
This might depend to some degree on the use of computers by your supplier. My main supplier is fairly large & I can usually get the same price on all the commodity items since the computer will do my pricing from the lowest column price in the trade price book. Larger items I usually get a quote.
I also try to deal with just one or two people on a consistent basis. Pricing seems to improve the longer you deal with the same people, especially when they come to recognize you as a steady customer.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
I used to have this problem with my supply house. The price I paid on any item would vary with the counter guy I was dealing with. When I finished a large commercial job a few years ago I sorted through all of my invoices on the job and found I had paid as little as $1.38 and as much as $2.45 for the same Hubbell 5352 duplex receptacle on the same job. I sat down with the branch manager and he set my account up on a set margin so no matter who ran a ticket for me I was paying a set margin for materials. I told him I wanted him to make money but I needed consistancy from him so I could make money too. I think if you pursue this with your supplier from this viewpoint you'll find it to be a communication problem they are willing to correct. It's in everyone's best interest.
We have to really watch our invoices. Our main supplier uses a computer system, but somehow our prices still fluxuate. Usually only on items have have negotiated a better price on. Like a recessed can at $8.15 will somehow slip back to $11.40. We call and they correct it. It will stay at $8.15 for a month or so, then somehow it goes back to $11.40. We save $300 or so every month just by reviewing the invoices before we pay.
I don't seem to have that problem. I use one supplier (CLS) and they are very good to me. Everything is computerized and I don't think they are interested in taking the time to adjust the pricing just to screw me.
I have used a couple different suppliers in trying to find the right one. I learned early that it is best to get an inside salesman as soon as you step in the door for the first time. It doesn't hurt to say hello and be friendly anytime you goto the supply house either. Makes it that much easier to do businees and when crunch time comes they are always willing to help.
The margin setting is the key. I have found over the years that there are about three different prices you can be charged. Many times it depends on the volumn of your monthly purchases as to which one you are charged each month. Dealing with the same supplier and salesperson helps also.
Now let me ask if any of you have had dealings with "online" suppliers? If so, what was your experience. Thanks!