Recent supply bottlenecks have tempted many to consider sourcing from multiple electrical distributors with the hope of getting the electrical supplies and services they need in a timelier manner.
But if you work with more than one electrical and lighting distributor, steep complications could arise. From mismatched KPIs and inconsistent reporting to inventory hiccups and differing project lifecycle capabilities, this path often doesn’t get you what you need most: That one, all-inclusive distributor who understands your project and gets you the electrical and lighting services you need—fast.
“It’s about helping to provide a seamless and successful project, from beginning to end, which one distributor can do if they take the time to understand your business goals,” says John Teeples, senior manager of National Accounts at Loeb Electric.
Here are five reasons you should source from one electrical distributor, regardless of your sector.
1. Accurate, Consistent Communication
“A benefit of working with one qualified distributor is consistent communication, especially regarding reports and potential roadblocks,” says Teeples. “If you have multiple distributors, you must make sure they are providing the same amount and type of data in the same reporting format,” he adds. “That’s a tough find.”
To eliminate confusion and deliver transparent information, the data collected and consistently shared should include:
- Key performance indicator (KPI) tracking.
- Digital, automated project milestone tracking.
- Accurate budget analytics that report to the penny.
That’s why it’s best to find an electrical and lighting distributor who has made the necessary IT investments to digitally monitor project management across multiple locations.
“An all-digital project management system,” Teeples says, “will consistently deliver information that’s clear and concise, which reduces misunderstandings and setbacks.”
2. Streamline Inventory Logistics
Inventory management and logistics—knowing where your products are, when they will be delivered, and storing them until they are needed—are significant aspects of productivity and project achievements.
“There are a lot of moving parts and hundreds of variables to consider at any given time,” Teeples says. “You have to know where your inventory is at all times and at what levels your inventory needs to be for the next stage of your project.”
This is often the most challenging part of the job, especially when more than one distributor is involved. Every electrical distributor has an inventory tracking system. Attempting to track inventory across multiple distributors’ systems can lead to confusion and ultimately project delays.
Selecting one provider for your electrical distributor services and supplies eliminates these headaches.
3. Maintain the Same Business Model
What’s the business model of your distributors?
“Do they all have a direct model, which means when you order something, the distributor has the manufacturer ship the product straight to the job site only when it’s available?” Teeples asks. “Or do all your distributors have a business model where they bring the product you need into their warehouse and store it based on a future schedule, ensuring the product is readily available to you without delay?”
If you plan to build, supply material for, or maintain a certain number of facilities in a specific amount of time, the answer you choose matters significantly to completing the job on time and within budget.
So, what’s the best answer?
“It’s best to bring the product in-house. That way, if the manufacturer is out of stock for a short time, your electrical distributor will already have a supply on hand to avoid project delays,” Teeples says. “Instead of relying on the manufacturer, you’re relying on your electrical distributor who has planned well,” he adds. “Making that kind of commitment in inventory shows their commitment to your success.”
4. Strong Relationships
Distributors cannot adequately deliver the commercial electrical and lighting services you need without first accomplishing what should always be their No. 1 goal: understanding the unique needs of your business.
“When customers consistently go to one person at one electrical distributor for all their project needs, that person quickly becomes invaluable to the growth of their business,” Teeples says. “They truly learn about the company, internalizing their goals and developing solutions based on what’s best for the customer—not the distributor’s bottom line.”
Those kinds of strong relationships allow distributors to “start thinking, in a sense, on your behalf, knowing what you need before you need it,” Teeples adds.
5. Seamless Life Cycle Project Management
“Many distributors just take orders and drop-ship material,” Teeples says. “For some projects, that’s all you need. But if you’re building, retrofitting, and/or maintaining several facilities regionally or nationally, those projects require full project life cycle capabilities,” he adds.
Or, as he calls it, a “birth to grave” approach to project management, overseeing large-scale, multisite initiatives from start to finish.
“These projects should start with the distributor working with architects, designers, and operators to help them specify what they need to bring their visions to life,” he says. “Then, it would include material supply, project management, inventory management, and electrical maintenance services—whatever your project needs to be successful.”