A lackluster pace was prevalent throughout the market in October as sales continued to sag, spurring mills and traders to work in earnest to sell their inventory and hasten a reversal of the market. Instead of transactions, most people’s time was consumed in conversation regarding the near and long term direction of business, trying to gauge what level of activity to anticipate and what action to take in preparation for it. Concerns about the economy (particularly inflation and rising interest rates), built upon the anxieties of all in the supply chain who didn’t want to get caught with holding high volumes of commodities that could potentially erode in value in short order. In all cases, no one was taking a position for long term stakes (focusing on 30-45 days for inventory coverage) and not just because of flagging sales but also in preparation for year-end inventories, in which driving down inventory volume and values becomes somewhat of a sport for retailers. In most cases, inventories were scaled back considerably and selling off (and even returning) any large or unnecessary stock became a victory for buyers. With the lack of demand, distributors and mills were doing all that they could to slow the retreat of pricing by reducing their own inventories and curbing production (in which they have done a great job of), which has helped to slow or stop any significant reductions. As of print, the balance between supply and demand is keeping prices steady. We anticipate that they will bounce along the bottom for most of November, with the likely occasion to inch upward towards the end of the month as replenishments targeted for arrival right after the New Year will come in to play.
In this industry, customer service matters, so feedback from our clients is imperative if we want to know how well we are (or are not) doing. The saying goes that “no news is good news”, but is it? It sounds like an oxymoron but, in our opinion, there is such a thing as a “good complaint” and it is most certainly 0ne that you hear about. Although none of us want to be the owner of a shortcoming, not being made aware of the problem prohibits you from making it right, which can be even more damaging. If your customer isn’t inclined to call you out on the problem, you can count on their dissatisfaction to be registered in the form of lost future business, either with them or (even more far-reaching) through their communication with their extended network. Issues that arise put both the customer and supplier in to very vulnerable positions, and not only because it’s human nature to avoid conflict but also because it puts both in the moment where action and responsibility is required. Nonetheless, in the spirit of addressing the inevitable, taking charge of a situation, improving upon your success and having a satisfied customer who can sell your virtues for you, it’s best to simply ask them if they were satisfied in doing business with you. Feedback is indeed a gift, but yet there is something quite comforting and disarming when a person you have employed concludes the contract by sincerely wanting to know how satisfied you are with their work. In our industry, where customers are likely spending more money on their projects than anything else that they have ever bought in their lives, we are especially vulnerable and sensitive to a customer’s dissatisfaction, especially for something as personal as a home. We are eternally grateful for your feedback and can assure you that we will employ a great sense of urgency to react, as we know the sense of urgency required on your behalf to take a situation and get it back on track. We are not in the building products business, we are in the people business and our focus is on you, our customer. Our end game is a happy homeowner as well, so you have our commitment that we will strive to find the most efficient and positive outcome for all.
This business isn’t all about complaints. The vast majority of the time, we have smooth successes and very satisfied customers. We’d like to think that we’ve reached this point by being a company that has always had a consistent, vested interest to our customer’s satisfaction. In our 44 years in business, we have had plenty of experience being advocates for our customers and are grateful to each and every one who has helped us improve our game. Thank you for your business!