On Wed, 03 Nov 2004 02:35:09 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (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"?
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
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.
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.
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...
"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"
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.
On Tue, 02 Nov 2004 13:31:13 GMT, email@example.com (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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Ignore the beat-down by self righteous contractors-- here is how I got
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!
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
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)....
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
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.
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
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.
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