Any tricks for getting "contractor" discount on supplies?

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writes:

no
willing
to
Yup--you gotta "find" the discounts, like me..........clue here is you aint gonna get em at home cheapo....
--

SVL






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On Wed, 03 Nov 2004 02:35:09 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@consult.pretender (Jeffrey J. Kosowsky) wrote:

I was hoping I might be able to draw some analogy between this issue and whatever it is you do to put food on your table.
As long as I'm asking, have you ever owned a business? Have you ever worked in the "trades"?
DJ
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On Tue, 02 Nov 2004 08:26:15 -0600, John Willis

<snip>
Something nobody had mentioned is the fact that wholesalers do not want to deal with ignorant homeowners/DIYers buying small quantities and all the nagging problems that come with them. Having a contractor's license and being in business implies some level of knowledge and/or experience in the use/application/installation of said materials. The wholesalers are not set up to offer help/instructions to the uninformed, inexperienced user; the big box stores are...
The next time you need a contractor to do some work for you, buy your parts/materials via the internet then ask him/her to install it/them. See what kind of warranty you get on the materials. It would be my guess a smart, savvy contractor would charge you more on the front end to cover what he/she may be losing from his/her normal price structure and for the possibility of having to deal with materials he/she may not feel is best for the application at hand.
DJ
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I agree. But, this is a business decision on the part of the supplier who needs to decide who is customer is and what is the cost of serving any given customer segment. This is independent of the sense of entitlement that contractors feel to receiving preferential pricing just because they hold some government license.

My point exactly. Material mark-ups shouldn't be used as hidden subsidies for contractor profits. I see nothing wrong with a contractor charging me a fair labor rate (including sufficient profit and overhead coverage) to install my 3rd party supplied materials.
On the other hand, unless the cost of serving me is that much higher than the cost of serving a contractor, I don't see why when I am a DIY, I should have to pay higher prices just because I don't belong to a certain guild with government charter (read: license).
The advantage of today is that the consumer has choice. I can go in to a supply house aware of the true pricing (via the Internet) and have a real (or implicit) conversation with the merchant. In the end, in return for convenience and service, I may choose to pay a somewhat higher price than the Internet price or the high volume contractor prices, but since I have other choices, the merchant knows that he can no longer get away with charging me the old 50% mark-up.
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Jeff, this is what most supply warehouses do...they sell exclusively to contractors because it is actually easier...the *average* weekend warrior *needs* a box stoor like home depot or lowes where as a contractor needs a supplier...most supply houses are no frill warehouses...they stock materials and a select list of other items...that contractors use and buy...they don't need large displays, and they don't need to have a bunch of different things because the customer want a red tapeline, instead of a yellow one....
having read the entire thread here i still don't understand what the uproar is over a contractor getting a "contractor's rate" at a supply house....it doesn't mean you have to hire that contractor....you can do your research on pricing, then get bids....but i can all but promise you one thing, telling a contractor that his "price" for materials is too high is not going to have him scrambling to lower his price to make you happy....in fact most contractors have three price levels....the price for a turnkey job, the price for the job if you wanna watch, and then the price(the highest by the way) for the homeowner that *thinks* they know more about the job than the contractor does....the third price will be roughly three times more than the first one...contractors don't really want to do jobs for "problem" customers and will gladly throw a "kiss-off" bid to them... ------------------- Chris Perdue "I'm ever so thankful for the Internet; it has allowed me to keep a finger in the pie and to make some small contribution to those younger who will carry the air-cooled legend forward" Jim Mais Feb. 2004
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comREMOVE (Chris Perdue) writes:

I agree. Again, I was only objecting to the argument that contractors have a god-given right to lower pricing and that somehow if I get a low price for my DIY repair then I am either putting contractors out of business or causing them to riot against their suppliers.
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On Tue, 02 Nov 2004 13:31:13 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@consult.pretender (Jeffrey J. Kosowsky) wrote:

I have doubts about this. From your words and tone, I don't think you are happy to pay full value for anything ...
Still, I can't understand why you're so concerned about how much profit I make. Your concern should be the quality of the work, the quality of the materials and *the cost to you*.

Here's why: I renovate your bathroom. A month later, there's a problem with the bathtub ... a hairline crack. You call me to say what do we do?
I supplied the tub and the plumber ... and marked both up by my standard 25%. Which means the tub cost you 5% more than you could buy it for at retail ... and plumber cost you about $15 an hour LESS than you could hire one at from the phone book.
Since I was the supplier, I pay to have the tile surround removed, the tub removed and replaced, and new tile work for the surround.
OR --- You supplied the tub which you bought to save my markup. It's your problem, not mine.

I don't know what your experience with this approach has been ... and I suspect that no matter what it has been, you would claim it's been great.
I can tell you what your experience would be here: no serious pro would even look at your project.

If you can't see the difference, then you've got a real problem. Maybe you can find a shrink who gives discounts.
Ken
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.tnx writes:

Not sure how you judge this. I am willing to pay market price adjusted up or down for the quality of the work and any other side benefits or deficiencies (e.g., faster job, better reputation, warrantee)

I could care less how much profit you make. I care only that when I buy something as a DIY that I don't pay a marked up price that bears no relationship to the actual cost and margin of supplying the product (as evidenced by someone else getting the same part for significantly less)

You should follow the thread more closely because you have misinterpreted my point thoroughly. First, I have said repeatedly that I am talking about buying parts for my own DIY repair so your situation of warrantying work is not relevant.
Second, even if I would hire someone else to do the work, I want to have materials represent materials cost and labor represent labor cost. If labor profit is built into the cost of materials then why bother even giving me separate parts and labor costs? Also, if there is a problem after the job then I would have assumed that the cost of replacing the materials would be borne by the supplier (and calculated into his margins) while the cost of redoing the labor would be built into the price you charge for labor.

That has not been my experience.

Actually, both cases have led to corrections in pricing.

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Kosowsky) wrote:

Whatthehell difference does it make? You write the guy *one* check for the *entire* job. Why do you care how he breaks the costs down?
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snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) writes:

I don't entirely disagree -- total cost is at the end of the day most important. But if you are not going to give me true material and labor costs, then why bother even splitting them out. Also, knowing what material and labor costs should be (relative to market rates) helps one identify a total bid that is either unrealistically low or unrealistically high.
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Kosowsky) wrote:

Again -- what difference does it make how the costs are split out? It's the *total* that you should be concerned about.

Utter nonsense. Unrealistically high or low bids are readily identified by comparing totals.
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As usual, TURTLE is way out there!

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from a distributor point of view he's right but exaggerated figures pulled out of a vivid imagination - but got the point across correctly.
Hey, if some stranger walks in to the wholesale house and knows exactly what he wants and doesn't ask some dumb how to question the counter guys are probably going to give it to him then ask whom for... just for my home' cash will have him assumed working in the trade and maybe asked whom he works for to not insult him with last column pricing on some items that book price way up there. Computer holds the key to special customer pricing otherwise its most likely standard pricing service last column, which by the way mostly is 50% off retail which is fine on small odd items but popular everyday stuff way out of line. If he takes that material home and calls a contractor to install it and that contractor sees whom supplied the material - hell will be raised and a wholesaler may very well lose a good customer whom will tell other contractors - if it happens as normal everyday thing,, that wholesaler soon will not need to worry about extending credit to the trade, which will take a major everyday worry off their minds and can reduce inventory levels to make the CPA happier with ratio's & watch the gross margins rise as the net margins fall. I could go on but I'm really not related to Turtle.

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Ignore the beat-down by self righteous contractors-- here is how I got the deal--FWIW.
I was replacing my roof, and called the local roofing supply company to get a price--- I described what I wanted using general terms, they gave me a price. I wrote down the price and model number and other descriptions. Later, I decided to get the supplies from another location, same company. I called them to confirm I would get the same price, but instead of sounding like a dolt-do-it-yourselfer, describing in general terms what I wanted, I just said (somethign like) "I need 14 square of GAF shingles... " and went on to refer to it using item number, etc. I found the price quoted was about 20% less. I thought about it for a while, and figured out that they had given me what I presume was a contractors discount, just because I sounded like one. The next time I needed some stuff I tried the same thing, getting the insiders model numbers from one location, then going into another location, in my work clothes, and asking for stuff by model number, etc.. and I got a better price. Go figure, not sure if it works anywhere else, but for this particular store it appeared to be an informal system, and if you looked and sounded like a contractor you got a better price... give it your best shot.
Save your flames, if they guy didn't ask if I was a contractor, and just assumed I was, that is on him, not me. I am not going to correct him and ask him to raise the prices. Also, if the business relies on this informal method of setting prices, TOUGH!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com (rotation slim) writes:

I have been doing a very similar thing by using the Internet as my pricing guide to make sure pricing is ballpark correct.

Agreed. This sense of contractor entitlement is ridiculous. People like Turtle object even if I get a discount on a job that I plan on doing myself anyway where the discount I get doesn't take away any of his profit!
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you surely misunderstand what TURTLE is saying....the statement about contractors leaving their supplier because they start giving John Q. Public the same pricing has nothing to do with you saving a buck on a project that you want to do yourself...it has *everything* to do with you wanting to supply your own materials for a contractor, then he in turn has to raise the "labor" rate to cover the operating expenses that are normally covered by "material markup", and you screaming "thats not fair, George J plumber down the street only charges xxx for labor"(even if George P had given you a quote for a turnkey job, not a labor only job)....
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comREMOVE (Chris Perdue) writes:

You have it exactly backwards. The usual situation as pointed out by another poster is that many greedy contractors charge a market rate for labor and then hide additional profit margin in the cost of materials thinking that the consumer is too dumb to notice and will only look at the hourly rate. Well, lucky for us consumers, the Internet is making pricing more transparent and making it easier for consumers to weed out overpriced bids.
When I am given a quote for labor and materials, I want the quote to represent just that. Materials is the cost of materials (plus associated expenses) and the labor is the cost of labor (including overhead and profit). I then look at both numbers and try to determine if they are reasaonable. If someone is not giving me reasonable or honest numbers, than how can I trust anything they say (including how they measure time :)
Just the opposite to your claim, I would much prefer to go with the guy with honest materials costs and higher labor rate than the smooth-talking guy with marked-up materials numbers and a slightly lower labor rate (although as pointed out above, the reality is that he will probably also come to you with a higher labor rate claiming that he is "more skilled")
Jeff
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Everyone here seems to be ignoring the value to the supply house of having a pro come in, buy whole boxes of things at a time and signing for them. When this is all handled by the computer the paper flows and costs are reduced. If the counter man is wasting time answering dumb questions, breaking boxes and handling cash it simply costs more. Of course volume decides what column the contractor gets priced in. I suppose Harry Homeowner wants the same price as a contractor who rolls a few million bucks worth of supplies off the dock.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Greg) writes:

Not ignored at all -- in all my posts, I have acknowledged that volume allows for some discount, however the impact of volume is much less than people think given the increasing efficiency of retail sales and the supply chain behind it. Second, even contractors don't buy all that much volume in the grand scheme of things. Third, many if not most contractors don't buy all that much volume of any single part; rather, they come in every day (or sometimes several times a day) making a series of relatively small purchases -- the advantages of volume are mostly about single part/single transaction volume rather than annualized transaction volume.
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Greetings,
Jeffrey J. Kosowsky wrote:

Ask? When I bought my first house 15 years ago I went to the local painting supply place & local lumber yard. Both now give me a 10% discount.
You'll never get the same discount as a high-volume buyer.
--
Kyle A. York
Sr. Subordinate Grunt
  Click to see the full signature.
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