How to Reduce Lead Times in the LBM Industry: 4 Tips for Success

As we continue to navigate COVID-19, it is important to think about extended lead times when it comes to your customer and planning your next project.

In the construction world, lead times refer to the time that passes by between placing an order and the time it is delivered to a jobsite. Lead times also refer to the amount of time it takes a supplier to get material from the manufacturer. Due to COVID-19 and other market-related conditions, extended lead times have become the norm—but they don’t have to be.

The Importance of Accurate Lead Times

Never underestimate the importance of having accurate lead times to give to your customers. Customers not only rely on you as an industry expert, but they also trust your company, your products, and the information you give them—lead times are key when it comes to customer experience and brand trust.

When lead times are longer than expected, it is frustrating for everyone involved. Suppliers get frustrated because they are not receiving materials on time for the manufacturer, which then frustrates the contractor since the delay of materials is now delaying their project. This then frustrates the customer since their project and the services they paid for are not living up to expectations. Sound familiar?

Brand trust and reliability are the first to go when lead times and the project timeline increase. Always make sure you know what factors affect lead times so that you can predict accurate lead times and reduce frustration.

What factors affect lead times?

There are a few key factors that will always affect your company’s lead times—whether it is for better or worse. Here are the biggest aspects to keep in mind when trying to predict lead times for your company and customers:

  • Market conditions. Market conditions are constantly changing, no matter the season. COVID-19 has made a huge impact on market conditions this past year.
  • Weather. Although weather is unpredictable when ordering material in advance, inclement weather can cause delays in delivery.
  • Imports. When items are coming from a different country, lead times are expected to be longer since materials are traveling a longer distance than that of a local delivery.

It is essential to keep market conditions, weather, and imports in mind when trying to determine lead times for your products. As we all know, a happy customer is a lifetime customer—never underestimate the importance of having accurate lead times.

How can I reduce my lead times?

Now that we have identified what factors affect lead times, let’s go over how you can reduce your company’s lead times to better fit the needs of your customers. There are four steps you can take to ensure reduced lead times, no matter the season or circumstance:

  1. Identify lead times early. It is important to take the proper steps to identify your lead times so that you can make an effort to reduce them, communicate to your customer, and enhance your brand image.
  2. Order early. There’s always chance that lead times will be extended regardless of when or what you order—it is possible to predict lead times, but impossible to know for sure. The earlier you order, the better.
  3. Know the market conditions. As an expert in the building materials industry, you must always be up to date with industry news and anything else that might affect the market conditions and lead times. Stay educated and updated on the market you work in and serve.
  4. Communicate with your supplier. Always have constant communication with all vendors and suppliers—not only will you have accurate lead times, but you will also have updated information to give when a customer asks.

Whether you are creating or maintaining a relationship with your customer, you always need to be able to predict accurate lead times and reduce them to fit customer needs. Remember to identify lead times and order early, stay up to date with market conditions, and communicate with your supplier and customer.

Colorado LBM Experts with Reduced Lead Times

At DMS, we are committed to the customer—this means that we always take the necessary steps to determine and reduce lead times.

Although the market is always changing, your lead times don’t have to. DMS is ready to help you with your next building materials project. For more information about the products and services we provide and how we can help with you project, contact us today or stop by one of our locations.