CONTRACTORS AND SUB-CONTRACTORS
While consultants specify, it is the contractor who actually buys your products. The main contractor enters into a legal agreement with the client to build the project, but there is an increasing trend to pass a lot of the actual work directly out to sub-contractors, in some cases with the contractor acting only as a manager. Contractors are interested in profit and exploring ways of increasing it. Their first port of call is to seek out alternatives to specified products to save costs – known as ‘specification breaking’. Traditionally, contractors are consideredin opposition to the client and most forms of contract have grown more complex to deal with this ‘confrontational’ situation, although steps have been taken to create partnerships instead. Employed by the main contractor, subcontractors generally specialise in particular areas, such as roofing, cladding or fittingout. In turn, they may employ other specialists, such as a metal roofing installer. Again, sub-contractors are all interested in profit but also in getting work done quickly.
Material and product suppliers can sell direct to contractor or sub-contractor customers. Alternatively, materials are purchased from merchants, ranging from general builders merchants stocking a wide variety of products to specialist stockists of, for example, electrical products. Merchants offer an easy point to pick up a variety of products for immediate use, smaller quantities and other financial benefits for manufacturers. They are interested in stocking or handling products which create profits without problems. Traditional merchants are under threat from the large DIY operations able to offer competitive prices to a wider market. As an alternative, factors act as buying agents for specialised products where there are numerous choices, such as facing bricks. They offer consultants and contractors a wide choice from a single source and cost savings from bulk buying.For each product, any potential problems for contractors and merchants need to be overcome and relevant benefits highlighted to prevent specifications from being overturned.