In complete transparency, I first want to convey that I understand this article may sound a bit harsh in response to online ordering. However, I do feel very strongly that in most cases it creates more work for the contractor and essentially is making the contractor do the supplier’s job. If we are ordering a few specific products from a web-based company, then it is certainly easier to order online. However, a large stock order or a full roof replacement is quite another endeavor. It actually creates more work for the contractor and adds an extra unnecessary step in the process with double entry of the material list. Even if the website offers a “template” to order from, the products on that template are still going to change in color, size, manufacturer, dimension, etc. per the job specs.
For our company, the material list for full roof replacements are generated from our production software with job specific details included. If we are then asked by a supplier to find each individual item online, then it really creates an unnecessary burden and requires extra time. We already have the material list generated, so why do double entry? We have found the most efficient and streamlined process is to send our supplier’s representative the material order via email and have them take the responsibility for entering our order into their system. We can then cross reference once we receive an order confirmation for accuracy.
Another aspect a supplier must understand is a lot of contractors will need materials ordered “on the fly” while at a jobsite, while driving, etc. In these cases, it’s much more convenient to be able to call in an order to the supplier.
If the goal of suppliers is to ease the ordering process and experience for a contractor, then they must understand the contractor’s perspective that ordering online will not always be the most efficient and time-saving option.
Mandy McIntyre is the Service Operations Manager of 1st Choice Roofing Company. See her full bio here.
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