Editor’s note: The following consists of a conversation between MCS’ Gina Cali and Roof Hugger President Dale Nelson.
Gina Cali: How can contractors work with metal manufacturers for timely deliveries?
Dale Nelson: So, every company's going to have its own little protocol to make sure their deliveries are timely. And, it's one thing to be providing an entire building and all the things that go with it. And of course, in Roof Hugger's case, we simply provide a retrofit sub framing system. So, let me give you what kind of we would need. And I think this overlaps into a lot of other companies as well.
In our case, we need to understand, or we need our customers to understand the ordering process. Are they ordering a standard inventory part from us, or are they ordering a custom component that we are going to have to specially fabricate for them? So, they need to understand what we sell a little bit, and understand whether it's a custom or a standard component. They need to tell us their delivery date requirements, and then get an estimate from us of our ship date.
The other thing we need them to do, is absolutely confirm their quantities and their takeoff, because adjusting the order after it's already written and in place, takes time. It can cost a day or two to back pedal, revise the order, get it back in the production time slot. So, try to confirm the quantities, understand just say, a normal, quick shipment, or is it going to be something that's going to have a longer lead time? And let us know what your onsite requirements are.
The next thing is when we write an order, we're going to send you an order acknowledgement. Please read it, look it over. We're not infallible. We make mistakes. We have typos. We sometimes will put the home address in as the delivery address, and it's going to a job site. These things happen. Read them carefully, make sure the ship to address is correct. Make sure the onsite contact for the delivery when it arrives, and their name and phone number is there. So, when our driver shows up or if it's an LTL or less than truckload shipment, that they know who they're trying to get hold of, and they have the contact information for them.
And then, if you can set a little reminder, say a week before the shipment should be shipped, to reach out to the manufacturer like us and say, "Are we still on schedule?" We love for every customer to think they're the most important and the only person we're working with, but the reality is you have 20 or 30 different customers all trying to make sure their stuff is on time. And although I would say it's probably our responsibility to reach out and say, "We're on schedule, everything's coming." But if you don't hear from us or any other material supplier, check with them a week before you need the material. That'll get them time to panic and sort things out. The day before isn't enough time. So, if you don't hear from us and we do try to communicate that information, that it is on schedule and coming, touch back with us and make sure everything's online.
And then finally, when the material does ship on the shipment date, request from the manufacturer, and we always try to do this, is send a confirmation of the shipment. If it's an LTL or a less than truck load, there'll be a pro number. There'll be a carrier and some contact information and phone number. If it's a full truckload of material, then again, there'll be another carrier, but there'll be a specific driver.
And that driver will have a phone number in his truck, so you can coordinate with him on site. We always try to get that out, but it's important to have that. Once it leaves the manufacturer's office, or their fabrication facility, if it's not their truck, and it usually isn't, it's sort of out of our hands. So, at that point, we've given it to a hopefully trustworthy carrier, but things can go awry at that end. And we have literally no control over that. So, that's the basics from our side of the manufacturing and shipping world.
Dale Nelson is the president at Roof Hugger. See his full bio here.
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