I just had someone come to me, questioning a contractors' quote.
It seems that this person had attempted to save money by having us buy the parts direct from Grainger. The Grainger price, for the parts alone, was nearly as much as the contractors' price for parts AND labor.
The Grainger catalog, I conclude, is a very good resource in pricing materials. (At least, for the invoice!)
Reno: From many year of dealing with WWG I have to agree with you for the most part. There was certain 'trade' catagories that had contractor pricing, and some items that I was billed at catalog $$. It was based on how the 'assigned field salesperson' set up my account. I wonder if it still works that way.
It's hard to find any other source that has the vast quantity of items, aqnd the available inventory. Another real good supplier was Mcmaster Carr. Order before 11AM & get same day delivery! I don't know if it's still like that but that was great!!
Let any EC look at Grainger's, or McMaster-Carr's prices .... and they'll bust out laughing. Here's this manager at work, convinced he's driven a tough bargain- all because the prices he's looking at are so high as to be comical.
Of course, contractors don't buy fittings and boxes from the likes of Grainger.
Now, I might have a bias on the point of contractor profits. Yet, I have explained to the 'powers that be' what is needed to get good pricing: know what we want, provide a reliable stream of work, and prompt payment. Instead, I get the 'we're big, they're little, and they'll jump through our hoops.'
My efforts have been in vain. Let them pay, and pay, and pay.
Grainger is good for things you can't find anywhere else. They do have tiered pricing tho. IBM used to get a pretty good deal on things with a national account but I still would not go there unless I couldn't find things cheaper somewhere else. My wife has figured out they seem to be the only ones who have vane kits for the lake aerators
OK, maybe I missed the intent, and may still be scratching my head.
No, I did not buy everyday items from them, as I was a firm believer in sticking with the suppliers that worked with me thru good times and bad times.
That said, needing items that the suppliers did not have 'in stock', or odd items was the prime WWG use. They also had a sales rep who would show up in person with 'deals', or to provide quotes. It worked with some sweet deals on 'bulk' quantities, especially lamps & ballasts. Everyday items were priced way above the suppliers, even if you talked quantity.
McMaster had the big advantage of stock, and delivery of hardware items, and fabrication materials that were basically....'we will order it for you and have it soon' from the suppliers.
I'm not saying that either of the above are sources for an EC to use for everyday materials like pipe, wire, boxes, etc.
Sometimes one gets so wound up that they can't express themselves very well. I am guilty of that.
We often see threads asking about marking up parts prices. The EC is often put on the hors of a dilemma.
For example, this place I work at has hired contractors based solely upon the hourly labor rate they charge. Sound familiar? On top of that, they sometimes ask for quotes on specific jobs.
So, with the spotlight on the 'hourly rate,' how's the guy to make any money? On his parts, that's how. So - as was the case here- the customer will start looking at supplying the materials.
Pause and think for a moment. Where's the customer going to get his prices? Either from the bins at the box store, or from an industrial supplier catalog such as Grainger.
Let's take an example: If you estimate that a job will take 3 hours, the customer will expect a quote of 3x your hourly rate, plus the parts prices he sees in the catalog, plus maybe a 2-10% administration fee (or markup).
Quote that way, and you're 'reasonable,' in the eyes of the customer. Quote less and you're only hurting yourself.
I suppose the lesson to all this is: Meet your customers' expectations. To do that, you need to learn how he thinks.
Remember: the big industrial customer believes that the size of his firm alone guarantees him the 'best' pricing. That is rarely the case.
For the industrial firm in this story, I guarantee that they get the HIGHEST possible pricing. This is because they require a lot of 'hand-holding' (bids, submittals, etc.) and are very slow paying. They also have zero loyalty with their vendors. Yet, this is what they were taught in business school, so there's no changing their minds.
I always shop around, with the internet the world has shrunk amazingly. I notice several things when hunting for parts and hardware, [current project is a huge multi-vise woodworking bench]:
Find the source. Dealers add $$$ and tax! If a company only trades through agents or franchises, look someplace else for a similar product. ****Direct in the name usually have keenest prices. If they won't give a price till you register, press the little red X and browse on... The US is by far the cheapest marketplace. Buy as much as you need and a bit for another day. Look for quantity discounts. Always ask for a discount. They can only say no. So can you! The number of times I never quite get to the door... Try and buy with a friend/colleague/fellow enthusiast. Even if you get no discount, [unlikely], you save on shipping.
Example: 1 metre long M20 galv. steel threaded stud: €10 ea - local store. €5 ea -city box store, 30 kilometers drive. €9 [pack of 5], mail order, 5 day wait. Nuts and washers, mail order, 80% cheaper.
Zero, zilch, nothing! Bit of a cheat on my part here, Larry. I mostly use Ex-Pat Express. My sons, or one of my mates, or a friend of a friend, recieves the bits, [usually shipped next-day-guaranteed - free inside England - if I spend more than about $60.00.] They bring them over on their next trip and I go collect. An ex-pat site called Anglo-Info can be used to find a carrier if all else fails. With 15% of the vox pop hereabouts being Brits, delays are minimal. Worst case is a day-ticket on a 3-hour Fast Cat to Portsmouth out of Caen, just up from Omaha Beach. Done that twice for double-glazing units straight out of the factory, 60% cheaper. Four years ago I shipped a very battered and used one of these after a vacation, single cylinder thumper. It needed a couple of coats of looking at, of course, but it's a useful bit of kit. http://www.edinphoto.org.uk/0_a_wat...6_middle_pier_dumper_truck_and_yacht.jpg
From the States, I use Fed-Ex or US Mail. Surprisingly fast, [4 days] and cheap, about $10 for a packet of 10 burner nozzles. SatNav Fed-Ex truck or mailman to your door - and if the value is less than $20, no taxes or duty whatsoever. A mate got a complete Toro Lawnmower from Texas through Charles de Gaulle last year, box unopened. Up here for thinking - down there for dancing!
....not forgetting ebay. That's a good place to start looking, as the buy-now prices give you a pointer for best-price, even if you actually buy elsewhere. Smart sellers have wised up- it's better to shift 10 items today at 30% mark than just one at 150% next week maybe.