Robert Ullman

After recognizing the true cost of its crews making pickup runs for materials, Harrell Remodeling struck a deal with the vendor to have items delivered to the jobsite when needed. Although the vendor originally charged a $20 delivery fee if the total purchase was less than $100, the fee was eventually eliminated as the partnership thrived. And even if the store doesn’t carry a product, the owners are willing to find it. “They really want our business, so they are willing to take those extra steps,” says Deana Bond, production manager for the Mountain View, Calif., remodeler.

Harrell Remodeling has a similar relationship with a local lumberyard. The key is to “find a supplier that you really like, one that has the same values you do,” Bond says. “It’s all about service. The small mom-and-pop places really provide good service and know their materials.”

Bond advises remodelers to meet face-to-face with the store owner and explain what they can bring to the partnership. In turn, the vendor may be willing to offer a delivery service or even a discount on materials.

Another good practice: Pay the vendor on time. “A lot of companies will offer a 10% or 15% discount if you pay on time or pay early,” Bond says.

Although there have been times when Harrell Remodeling’s supplier wasn’t able to meet the company’s time frame, the partnership has cut back on employee downtime and unnecessary trips for supplies. “The [vendors] try to accommodate us, and we don’t abuse it,” Bond says.

—Amy Campbell is a freelance writer in Phoenix.