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Top 20 Stories of 2014: #19 Small Contractor Describes the Perfect Distributor

Every weekday in December, tED magazine is counting down the Top 20 Stories of 2014. Below, the #19 story of 2014, originally posted on September 3, 2014.

By Jim Williams

Contractor’s Corner decided to once again ask a contractor to describe what an ideal distributor would be like for them. This time we approached Jeff Klimek, owner of Techno-Structure Inc.

Klimek speaks from the point of view of a smaller contracting company as opposed to a larger company depicted in one of our last articles on this matter. The following points are some of Klimek’s thoughts on an ideal distributor.

Web-Based Purchasing
“As a small company, I tend to be tied up during most workdays, and have to spend most of my time dealing with customers and our install team. Ordering is typically performed later at night, and we don’t have time to call people up, submit faxed orders, etc. Being able to log in to a secure website to place orders is a must. A well-designed site would also have detailed order tracking / order history, product descriptions and photos, and would be easy to search and find the parts we need.”

Integrated stock levels
“Along with web-based ordering, we’d like to see if items we want to purchase are in stock, or not. Nothing is more frustrating than staying up late to get an order in, only to find out the next day, when we’re already in the field, that one or two items on a large order are out of stock… then we have to scramble to find them elsewhere.”

“Speaking of stock levels, why not just have every item you sell, always be in stock!” was another point that Klimek wanted to make about his ideal distributor.

Efficient Will Call
“When we must use Will Call, we’d like it to be a smooth, fast, and pain-free process. Typically our technicians are the only ones visiting Will Call to pick up last-second items, and those technicians are paid by the minute. Having them wait around 10, 20, 30 minutes or more to get an order out of Will Call is a real pain… both to our cash flow and daily scheduling.”

Free Shipping
“In an effort to avoid the cost of Will Call, we’d prefer to have most orders shipped directly to us. If there must be a minimum order to qualify for free shipping, how about $100, or $250 dollars? But overall annual purchases should be a consideration to offer free shipping at any time, on any size order. I’d be much more inclined to buy more stuff from one place, and probably a lot more frequently, if I didn’t always have to worry about putting a minimum order together.”

Shipping Time
“Next-day shipping would be great; 2-day shipping would be the max… tough to wait any longer than that for last-minute items, and tough to plan that far ahead for every item we’ll need for most jobs.”

One-Stop-Shop
“Why can’t everything we purchase be available from a single distributor?”

No Hassle Return Policy
“If there’s clearly a problem with a part, stand by the products you sell! Advanced replacement, next-day shipping, no paperwork to get a return authorized, return shipping labels, etc. You’ve got my credit card on file, so what’s the big deal?!”

Klimek has made some decent points and ones that any small business could possibly share. The overall point being: sometimes it’s easier to manage a chaotic situation when you’re dealing with a company that makes dealing with them simple and straightforward.

Techno-Structure was started in 2003 with the goal to “meet the growing demand for commercial-grade technology and professional services in the residential marketplace.”

Their primary focus is on security, alarms, audio, video, home theaters, and automation systems for small business and homes in the Chicago area.

To find out more, or to contact Jeff, please visit Techno-Structure’s website www.technostructure.com.

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