Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Intro
For some a trip to a builders merchants may be a daunting prospect. There are a few things to consider before you go as they are not like other shops.
If you have ever been in a builders merchants like Jewson, Travis Perkins or Buildbase, you will notice that the prices (if they are labelled at all) are normally high. Unless you are looking at a special offer price, then you are likley looking at the list price.
Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Ring for a Price
Most products have a List Price. The list price is a made up price that a builders merchants will put on a product hoping that somebody will pay it. The price you "can" pay for the product is often a lot lower.
So the key is to ring up and ask for a "quote" (price) on what you want before you go to the actual "shop". When you have a price, try to negotiate a lower one.
Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - "Better Price Please"
Prices are not fixed, you can try and get a better price. Some staff will do this straight away because they are nice people, others are too lazy or do not care if you pay more.
The conversation might go like this:
You: "Hello could I have a price for 100 concrete blocks please"
Builders Merchant: "We can do those for 75 pence each"
You: "Is that your best price please?"
Builders Merchant "The best we can do is 69 pence a block"
You: "I will be getting some prices elsewhere so is this really your best price?"
Builders Merchants: "Yes" or "we could do them for 68 pence a block"
It is important to do this for everything you intend to buy. If you are building a wall for example, get prices for sand . . . cement. . . even a trowel and bucket before you go to the shop. EVEN get a price for a role of string. . . otherwise you might pay £6 for it.
Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Get Price from Two Companies
Jewson (by example) might offer your concrete blocks (best price) for 68 pence each. If you then ring up Travis Perkins (by example) and say that Jewson will do them for 68 pence then they will either say:
- "Thats a really good price we can't match that"
- "We can do them for 65 pence"
You can even then go back to Jewson with the new lower price from Travis Perkins and see if they will beter it. In short it is very time consuming so it is best to email list to each Builders Merchants.
Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Delivery
After you have your best price, ask for free delivery. This is an added bonus that is nearly always included for fairly large orders.
Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Get the Quote in Writing
It is very important that you get the price or quote in writing. If you just talk to somebody over the phone, then that is not good enough. You may not get that price when you pay! Which would be annoying.
Also if you have a credit account (see notes below) then you will not pay for maybe a month, by which point you will need you email to check the bill or invoice, against your quote.
Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Check Price
If you are paying cash or card on the day then then obviously check the price as you normally would. But if you pay by invoice then make sure when the invoice arrives (may be 2 weeks after receiving the goods) that you check the prices. They sometimes may have doubled! And you will be very glad you have your quote in writing (email).
Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Credit Accounts
Where things really fall apart is the accounting. You might think a credit account is a handy thing to have, but you will be harassed (record is 8 emails and 2 calls over 10 working day period) by their "partner" credit management companies, to pay the bills pretty much from the word go. Even for small bills under £100. . .
Personally I try to make money by actually working and doing things, not skivvying around trying please somebody in a call centre.
Jewson for example will not email invoices to you so you can check them easily, instead its masses of paper, or some inconvenient online portal where you can log on (yes another password to remember) to view them.
Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Conclusion
For large orders a builders merchants can save you a lot of money. However, these guys make buying something time consuming. This may be worth it for large order but for small bits and bobs, you may prefer to go to B&Q or Homebase.
Always look out for special offers in Homebase or B&Q, they are often cheaper than a Builders Merchants.