Looking for a company to supply steel channel for your next big construction project? Choosing the wrong supplier can lead to major hassles down the line, so it’s important to pick one you can be comfortable with—you may be satisfied with a subpar supplier when everything goes 100% right and you don’t need to test their capabilities, but if your situation gets iffy you’re going to wish you’d worked with one of the best.
So, how do you identify a steel channel supplier worth your business? Check for these 10 signs to determine whether you’re looking at one of the best, or one of the worst:
1. History. While history isn’t a hard barrier between good and bad suppliers, there’s something to be said for working with a company with a long history in the industry; if nothing else, a business that’s been around for close to a century has proven to have a certain degree of resilience and customer satisfaction in a way a business only a few years old has not. Companies don’t typically survive for long in the supply industry by providing inferior products, not keeping up with demand, or failing to satisfy customers. History means something.
2. Knowledgeable staff. The staff at a supplier should understand the product’s they’re supplying to you; if you ask a question about the steel channel you’re ordering, the person you’re speaking with should have an answer for you. If they don’t, but the question is admittedly a tough one, then they should still have an answer for you eventually. You don’t want to work with a supplier that can’t answer your questions with confidence and assist you in making the best choices possible for your goals.
3. Satisfied customers. Any supplier that’s been around for a while should be able to point to a long list of satisfied customers without much trouble. If they’re surprisingly reticent about their past deals, you might want to give them a closer look. Steel channel isn’t the sort of supply companies seal their lips over, so if you want to look into your supplier’s relationship with its customers it shouldn’t be a big deal.
4. Reasonable guarantees. You can’t expect ironclad, cover-every-possibility guarantees from any supplier, but you don’t want to work with any company making promises significantly inferior to their competition in the area; companies set guarantees according to what they think they’ll need: a really, really good guarantee means they expect everything to go flawless. A weak guarantee means they’re the kind of company where you’d be taking regular advantage of a better guarantee. So, guarantees don’t matter much for use—but they can say a lot.
5. Reliable logistics. Not every supply company’s going to be eager to let you under the hood of their logistics, but the ones most confident in their abilities aren’t going to be shy about what they are and aren’t capable of. If the logistics backing your supplier are weak, your own supply is weak; if you find that project is going to need more steel channel than you thought, or something happens to damage your supply, it’s not good to find out your supplier’s facing a shortage of their own.
6. Breadth of supplies. Sometimes a project needs something different midway through; the difficulty of vetting a new supplier and jumping through the necessary hoops is a waste of time, effort, and resources better spent elsewhere. Better to make sure you’re working with a steel supplier that can get you the steel channel you need, and anything else that might pop up as well. Working with a dozen smaller suppliers simply isn’t an efficient way to handle logistics if you can avoid it.
7. Quality of supplies. Obviously, quality counts for a lot. It can be easy to overlook this most basic building block of a good supplier, if you’re not paying attention. Ask lots of questions about where your supplier gets their materials and products, then follow the trail back and check out whatever reviews and commentary you can find. Not every supplier is going to have a 100% success rate on products, but you want more good eggs than bad in their catalog. ‘Cheap steel channel’ shouldn’t mean ‘steel channel of dubious quality’, unless you want a disaster down the line.
8. Versatility. If you need to make rapid changes, have a sudden increase in demand or difference in requirements, a good supplier will be able to adapt quickly and get you what you need in a reasonable time frame. It might cost you a premium, depending on how exacting your changes and needs may be, but you’ll wish you’d selected a more versatile supplier if something unexpected does arise. And even if you never do end up leveraging that versatility, you can treat it as a good sign of a steel channel supplier’s overall quality: good suppliers know the importance of agility.
9. Documentation. At the most basic level, you want to make sure your steel supplier has all their paperwork and documentation in order, as required by local associations, local and federal governmental bodies, etc. A supply company that’s slow to produce documentation when asked about it should be viewed with a very critical eye—there are few flags redder when looking at any business. You don’t want supplies from a dubious source, under any circumstances. It’s not worth the risk.
10. Customer support. It’s so very easy to forget the importance of customer support when you first look into a business, but that’s the kind of shortsighted thinking that bites consumers and companies when they least expect it. Make sure you’re working with a supplier that’s easy to get a hold of, pleasant to work with, and easy to interface with for payment, logistics, etc. You don’t want to find yourself sitting on a phone line for hours on end trying to correct a minor mistake.
Look for these signs, and you may not be guaranteed a great steel channel supplier, but you’ll certainly be more likely to find one than you would be choosing blind. Pay attention to the little things; they’re where the subpar companies let their true colors show.