Wholesalers are integral to the working life of an electrician, but there are so many these days. Within a few miles of our Crawley Training centre we have TLC, RS Components, Kew Electrical, CEF, Screwfix Direct and many more. So how do you know which are the good ones?
We have identified the key areas electricians find important when choosing a wholesaler below but also want your feedback as to which factors are most important when choosing your regular wholesaler.
Many electricians prefer to buy branded products as they trust the brand and can be sure the product will be fit for purpose. One electrician we spoke to said;
“Brand recognition. Certain brands have that element of safety, and we are afraid to change”.
What is clear is that once you have used a particular product then you will go back and use it time and time again. This is because you now trust the brand and also know how to install it correctly saving you time and money on the job. However many wholesalers offer a range of similar brands so this alone can’t be the only factor in choosing a wholesaler.
Price is certainly a big player amongst electricians and whilst wholesalers are often happy to haggle over the price, this doesn't suit all electricians especially those who are just starting out in the trade, who may prefer the fixed prices found in the DIY store catalogue easier to manage when it comes to pricing jobs for customers. It is common to find electricians who hold several accounts across different wholesaling outlets.
“I also use one particularly large "Trade" company quite often too. They don't stock anything that the others don't supply, but they are very often the keenest company on price! I regularly purchase my single phase distribution boards from them as they often can't be beaten on price, particularly on fully loaded ones (including MCBs.)”
However, price is not the only factor when it comes to choosing a wholesaler. Staff expertise is also important. A knowledgeable member of staff may be able provide advice to electricians on product suitability for their jobs. Some smaller wholesalers insist that their staff have experience within the electrical industry or provide the training necessary to bring them up to speed with electrical terminology;
“I've one (wholesaler) that has one particularly good member of staff. He is very knowledgeable and for quoting more complex work (like a 3-phase DB install for example) he is great because he fills in the gaps in my designs, (he knows all the nuts, bolts and widgets that I can miss.)
Independent wholesalers score more highly with staff expertise and flexibility, but lose points when it comes to stock range and price.
Delivery Speed / Convenience
For buying 'bread and butter' materials such as Twin & Earth, KO boxes and other basic accessories, electricians favour flexibility particularly being able to order in advance and collect without waiting and a range of delivery options. Electrical wholesalers have built up a good reputation in the trade for sourcing more difficult materials and often have a wide range of items in stock that might be needed urgently but which wouldn't be found in a DIY store. This places an electrical wholesaler in a great position to obtain repeat business from electricians and gain their trust. Additionally many wholesalers are now expanding their ordering and delivery options to their customers. Increasing numbers of wholesalers now have an ordering facility on line where orders can be placed to collect from a branch or delivered to site. This saves electricians from having to visit their wholesalers at all. This is a very convenient option for electricians who have a very busy day ahead and don't want to queue at the wholesalers first thing in a morning. Other wholesalers will deliver items to site, even very small items, this is great for electricians who may have long or bulky items that need to be transported or for a small item that the electrician may have forgotten to pick up at the wholesalers earlier in the day. Small incentives like these can save time and fuel for electricians and are remembered.
Getting delivered orders wrong or not having materials ready to collect on a given day are cited as the most annoying things about wholesalers. This is quickly followed by not having enough items in stock. Wholesalers that stock wider ranges and have quick, reliable turnarounds on items that have to be ordered are more highly favoured;
“Service, availability, prices and product quality are important, not necessarily in this order, but the whole package......as well as location, ease of use for the job and customers.”
Do You Use More Than 1 Wholesaler?
When it comes to choosing a wholesaler, electricians have differing requirements, and it seems that all these wholesalers have differing strengths which means that whilst they may not achieve 100% customer loyalty from electricians, they will be receiving a steady stream of work from a higher number of electricians who favour different branches according to their job and location needs;
“I have 3 accounts at wholesalers. I do this because they all have good attributes and bad. This way I can get some good prices and quality names. Also the staff vary at their levels of expertise and some times its more important than the price. At the end of the day my customers are looking for value for money as am I”
Take Our Survey
So the vision of a perfect wholesaler would be a great location, unrivalled stock, excellent staff knowledge, flexible delivery options, keen price and great brands. When the deals, the bacon rolls product demonstrations, customer budgets and requirements are taken into account, it is clear to see why electricians switch between branches when selecting the best wholesaler for their needs.
If you have 2 minutes please take our survey below and let us know which of the above factors are most important when choosing your ideal wholesaler: