To prosper and grow, a new masonry construction firm must satisfy its customers better than its competitors can. This goal can be achieved only with the cooperation of suppliers. But all too often, masonry contractors are insensitive to the concerns and constraints of their suppliers.

Working Together to Satisfy Customers
Though contractors may not always have to treat suppliers well, it's shortsighted not to. Contractors who have embraced the increasingly popular Total Quality Management (TQM) concept take a longer view. An ongoing process of two-way communication, TQM requires subcontractors and suppliers to work together to meet customer's needs.

Vendors Can Help You Get Paid
Material suppliers can also put pressure on the general contractor or owner, whoever is slowing the payment process.

Treasure Troves of Information
Suppliers are also great sources of information. Manufacturers and distributors can provide the masonry contractor with an abundance of data on materials. In addition, manufacturers and distributors frequently offer training on how to handle and lay specialty products, which can help masons do a better job.

Reciprocal Honesty Required
A good relationship is necessary if you're going to work with anybody, including your materials and equipment suppliers. Honest communication is critical to such a relationship.

Allow Realistic Lead Times
An important way to gain favor with vendors is to allow realistic lead times when ordering materials. Typically, two days is sufficient lead time for a distributor to furnish block used in foundations and three or four days for residential brick.

Estimate Accurately
To get the best service from vendors, contractors need to do accurate take-offs. Computer estimating software helps alleviate this problem.