25th October 2013 | A well-designed cable distribution system has the potential to maintain the high performance of a circuit, contributing to its sustainability in the longer term. But what do contractors and specifiers want when it comes to cable management products and, more importantly, what should electrical distributors and wholesalers be demanding from their suppliers to deliver the right products and service to their customers? Metsec Cable Management’s Sales Director, Jon Hillier takes a closer look.
There are three key characteristics that make a good supplier when it comes to this large and often very commoditised sector. Competitiveness, availability of great quality products and responsiveness should all be taken into account when choosing which suppliers to work with.
In order to ensure the wholesaler can maintain a decent margin, competitive pricing is of course key. However this should be underpinned by a supplier that can help drive repeat business of large orders, opening the doors for the distributor or wholesaler to sell in to more prestigious and higher value projects.
Availability of high quality products must be one of the first criteria. For those aiming for high value contracts, or working within supplier frameworks, quality is key. This, supported by in-depth technical support can instil confidence that the customer will achieve the required result.
Sales staff can draw from the expertise available from the supplier too, helping them to sell-on products with greater confidence. DesignSPEC is a software package freely available to all Metsec customers. It enables the specification of the most economical profiles for the job. It also provides structural design for channel solutions and span and loading capacities for cable ladder and cable tray specifications.
Following design, calculation sheets can be printed out directly from the software. The benefit is that a distributor can work with their customer to analyse costs, based on different specification scenarios. It means costs can be reduced at both tender stage and project stage. In turn such an approach enables the reduction of waste, helping to enhance the sustainability of the project and keeping inline any waste management directives the main contractor or end client has mandated.
The distributor also needs a supplier that is responsive in its delivery of technical know-how. Being able to pick up the phone or make an enquiry by email, with the knowledge that a response will be swift and helpful, is reassuring. Metsec has a very fast turn around time on its quotations, with a 98.5% record for 48-hour quotations and 96.5% for quotation returns within 24 hours. In fact a collaborative supplier can save real time and cost for the wholesaler. This is because contractor and specifier queries can be dealt with directly by the supplier – freeing up time for branch staff.
Once a schedule is complete, availability of the products is crucial. Extended lead times are a bugbear for standard or special profiles because they need to be manufactured to order. Worse still for even longer lead times customers might have to wait for products which are being imported from overseas. All of Metsec’s manufacturing takes place at its West Midlands plant. Here a very high volume stock holding means there are ample standard products available in stock to service the needs of customers across the independent and national distribution network. Even specials are available on very quick lead times and with a UK base there is much more control over stock movement and delivery times than products coming from abroad.
Suppliers also need to understand the route to market and the pressures and demands placed on the distribution network by contractors and ultimately specifiers. A team of sales engineers who can support the specification of products, by back selling through local branches, are invaluable in helping to drive business. They have the in-depth technical expertise required to aid a system designer or M&E consultant, opening doors to larger, more prestigious projects. Ultimately those orders will come back to the distributor or wholesaler within the area.
Responsible procurement and the sustainability of products are high on the agenda of those working on larger projects – particularly public sector and infrastructure contracts. A distributor or wholesaler aiming for this market needs support from throughout the supply chain to prove the integrity of the products it sells. Very few cable management product suppliers undertake such rigorous auditing to provide the customer with the required paperwork. Yet when it comes to larger contracts and in particular public works, such documentation can really help to set supplier and distributor apart from the supply chain competition. Metsec has worked hard to achieve BES 6001 responsible sourcing of construction products accreditation. This serves as a reliable point of differentiation for its distribution network.
By providing support to the electrical wholesaler, a product supplier can help to drive higher value sales through its competitiveness, responsiveness and product quality. Ensuring M&E customers achieve the optimum installation for their project, in a timely, cost effective way and sustainable way, will engender customer loyalty and in turn help to secure new business for distributors and wholesalers.