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Unread 11-09-2009, 02:53 PM   #1
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Relationships with Tile Stores:Ins and Outs

I have been buying most of my setting supplies from a local family owned tile store for a little while now (they sell laticrete, which I have switched to using almost exclusively). After showing some recent pics of my work the owner asked if I would like to be one of their "preferred" contractors. I said yes and gave them a small stack of business cards.
So this is my first experience with such a thing. I just wanted to ask you all what should I expect, avoid, do, etc.. The owner is a real nice guy, they have been around for a while, and sell mostly high end ceramic to/through contractors. Since they don't really get walk in clients ( they are in a business park, and don't sell directly to HO's), I don't know how much referring will be going on.
On a side note, I was a little miffed that the store I had been going to previously for years for different things, and whom everyone their knows me by name, never offered such a deal.

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Unread 11-09-2009, 02:57 PM   #2
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Really simple. just work out a price and payment plan. Also have an understanding regarding change orders. Also ways visit the job first to see the scope of work and give him your contract price to do the job
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Unread 11-09-2009, 04:58 PM   #3
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list of prefferred contractors meaning they reccomend you, or subcontract installs for them.

If you install for them, you will make a going rate which is less than what you will charge the client direct. But they can keep you busy when times are slow. Tough thing is often you don't see the job before hand unless its super custom, so you need to be clear as to what you charge and how much extra they measure for materials.
Jason W.

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Unread 11-09-2009, 05:21 PM   #4
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Can't help you, Gregg. Never done that kind of work, but I'll be sitting in listening to the replies. Lots of guys on here work for dealers.
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Unread 11-09-2009, 05:27 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Greg
one of their "preferred" contractors
You need to find out what is meant by this. This could mean different things, like Jason said above, describing vastly different relationships. Some may be similar to what you do now, referrals and such, some may be on contract.

Either way, could be a good thing if played right.

"the road to hell is paved with osb, mastic, pre-mixed latex 'grout' or 'thinset', "
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Unread 11-09-2009, 05:57 PM   #6
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"Preferred" often means they are looking for the right person but have not found the "one" who can be trusted with all of their clients and jobs.

I used to work for shops when I was on my own in college and I learned a good deal quickly about the good, bad and plain old really bad. Even growing up in a family install and retail buss. I had a few lessons to learn the hard way.

As an Partner in family shop I can possibly give some insight but I think most of it is common sense and some may be regional. We almost never sub work out save for a few times a year but we have done a fair amount in the past.

First Simple but often overlooked rules:

Never enter into money talks with clients.

Be careful with giving your opinion on jobs...and never blame the shop for errors in front of the client.

Any changes need to be made through the shop..or if changes are made
( even scheduale ect)let them ( the shop) into the loop as soon as possible.

Always leave the job cleaner than you found it.

Find out the shop policy on extra material. We order extra on every job..sometimes enough extra that if the client sees it they will complain. The flip side is if the client makes changes or has a layout issue and you don't have enough material guess who gets the blame for the time frame ? The shop does.( some of our material are 4-6wks out) Our installers bring enough material for the job..any extra is kept at the shop or in the van to be used as needed.

Make the shop Money...Think big picture here..If the shop wins so do you. If they are good folks this is how you "earn a pay increase". If they are not willing to share you need to eventually look elsewhere.

Let them know up front you have no issue with them making profit on top of your labor..This way they do not feel they have to worry about you seeing numbers intended for the client only.

Be always prompt or early...communicate constantly..if your running late call before your late. AND always answer your phone.

Be cautious about "nickel & diming" the company..Build into your asking price some margin for your fuel, phone and cost to conduct your business.
For example if your using your own transportation,tools and license you should ask "x" amount more per ft. or per hr.

Don't have personal problems that become company problems.

In short conduct yourself as a pro who is essentially making the life of the shop easier and more profitable.

It is essential to meet often and build a relationship with the shop. I would try to look at every job as it was bid...at least for the first few. It takes time but it can be rewarding for both parties..It can also be a nightmare if done wrong.
Trask Bergerson
Bergerson Tile and Stone
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Unread 11-09-2009, 06:25 PM   #7
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If they recomend you to clients, go for it. If they want you to install for them, run.

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Unread 11-09-2009, 06:26 PM   #8
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good posting trask
jeff aka papi chulo. "I'll make you famous!"(William H. Bonney aka Billy The Kid)

Schluter Kerdi and Ditra installer in Southern New Mexico
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Unread 11-09-2009, 06:47 PM   #9
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What Dave said.

Referrals are great, although not all of them pan out.

Tile retailers will send a job my way if it helps them sell tile, because after all, thats what they do. They also want their customer to be happy with who they recommend. There are people out there who need tile, but don't know who to have install it.
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Unread 11-09-2009, 06:51 PM   #10
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Yeah i think Trask covered it all,well except the part where you sit around and wonder why your phone doesn't ring and you go in and they say yeah we've still got your cards and you see guys going out with truck loads of tile and you realize they are underbidding you or giving kickbacks or fishin with the guys.

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Unread 11-09-2009, 06:56 PM   #11
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I will never work for a retailer again. They always start out awesome, then turn into nightmares..

Laticrete hydroban showers
Mud set stone.

ditra kerdi stone showers waterproof mudset stone backsplashes glass tiles,laticrete, hydroban,ohio,cleveland,painesville,backsplashes,
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Unread 11-09-2009, 07:19 PM   #12
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Just like any contract
Scratch and highlight things you don't like until you guys meet a mutual agreement. You should feel like its a partnership and not one of them giving you a handout.
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Unread 11-09-2009, 07:25 PM   #13
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I've done this a few times - its a lot like working for a contractor because (like it was said before) you never talk about price, and always put changes through "the boss".. my biggest complaint is that I don't make as much - working for less then $25/h aint cool.. and a lot of times I don't agree with the install, like when I was told to use mastic over PT plywood, on the front of a tub (no kerdi of course)..

Its good to have a few guys you can call on when/if things get slow, but I hope I only have to do it when its totally needed
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Unread 11-09-2009, 08:11 PM   #14
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Post 6 and 10 covers it all by Trask and Dave.

HOWEVER this guy asked you for cards which is a good thing. Now either he was stroking your ego and doesn't plan on do anything for you or he is genuine.

I have worked at a distributor and asked 'hacks' for their cards because I just wanted to stroke their ego and keep them coming back to buy more tile. Hey at least I made them feel important if nothing else.

My advice is listen to what Trask said in that post of his and wait and see what happens. If you need the work you can badger them a little and see what happens.

Now thing about what Dave said about the kickbacks and fishing is very true. Not with everyone but more often than not. I myself had no problem giving kickbacks because without them I wouldn't of got the job anyway..........

So for me to throw a sales guy a few bones now and then was fine with me. I know some think it is wrong but hey I was known to give the whare house guys money (to get the good material) (truck loaded right away)

The delivery drivers to get my tile on the job ASAP and in one piece and where I wanted it............

The guy that operates the crane in a high rise company shirts so when we arrived with our tile it wasn't an alll day affair..................

The Benjamins go a long way................................

Rule number one in life: You go with what you got, imperfections and all.
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Unread 11-10-2009, 01:53 AM   #15
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There are no contracts involved, I will not be working for the store in any way. It is simply referrals. When he asked me he said the only thing I have to do is call the customer back if he refers them to me, even if I am too busy to work them in. I told him of course, I would do that anyway.
I have been working on my own for a few years now so I have gotten to learn all the workings of contracts and such. And that is one thing I learned, ALWAYS have a contract.
I get what you are saying about stroking the ego Ben. I don't think that is the case. He seems like a real honest guy, Henry was the one that sent me there originally. And it's not some high volume shop pushing 99 cent tile, it is mostly high end stuff. So I would imagine any referral would be more concerned about quality than getting it done cheap.
I don't really have any expectations from this relationship, but of course any extra business is always nice. I just wanted to hear from anyone that had any experience in a similar situation.

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