If you work in commercial construction, you know that getting building material right now can be difficult. It does not matter if you are talking about MDF, steel, or even portable toilets for workers. What is causing this? There are many reasons such as COVID-19, worker shortages, extreme weather and even shipping container shortages. While we don’t have individual control over extreme weather or worker shortages, there are actions that companies can take to ensure project continuity.
Know your schedule and get in front of ordering materials early. This should go without saying and if you do not do this, you will certainly risk not being able to get materials on time. If you have the space, order your material early and store it. In the time of JIT (just in time) manufacturing/production this seems counter-intuitive. However, this could be the difference between a delayed project and being the hero during tough times.
Make sure you have multiple distributors for the same material. Don’t wait until the distributor you normally use is out. Having multiple accounts setup with sales representatives ahead of time will help speed up ordering material. When getting material pricing, ask your sales representative to guarantee pricing past the time you will need it. Make sure you get confirmation in writing. A verbal “don’t worry about it” won’t do. Pay your vendors on time per the net terms of your agreement. Your company is not the only company that ranks customers by how fast they pay as one of the metrics. That may make the difference between you getting the material ahead of the customer that decides to pay on their terms. While none of this is a guarantee for project success, it may be the difference between project delays and successfully completing on time and in budget. Not being prepared is a guarantee for failure.