There are more than 800,000 remodeling businesses in the United States; nearly 50,000 do over $1 million in yearly sales. But it's a market that manufacturers often miss. So you may have to go to the mountain to get discounts. That's the message from Tom Seibert, who had his own business helping contractors connect with manufacturers and is now the director of strategic sourcing for the 60-franchise Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling.

Building relationships is the key to getting discounts. Says Seibert: Go to your regular supply source and ask for the name of your area representative; attend trade shows and look for networking opportunities through groups such as the Remodelors Council or NARI; or go through a manufacturer's Web site. Show interest in the manufacturer and the product, “as opposed to saying, ‘Give me the lowest price,'” Seibert says.

Build a relationship; invite them for an annual breakfast meeting with your team to learn more about their products. Arrange a factory visit. Be available for product training or trials. As in a sale, you'll have to close the deal sometime. Ask the manufacturer, “What programs do you have available for a company my size with a loyalty to your product to help strengthen my business?”

Some have a preferred contractor program, but many have other ways to promote loyalty and volume purchasing. Bulk buying talks, so consider aggregate buying groups. Look into programs through the local Chamber of Commerce or the National Federation of Small Businesses. Or, you could always join a franchise company.