7 Rungs to Climb for Advancement in Building Supply

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So what are the keys to advancement in the building supply industry; an industry which encompasses everything dealing with construction from shingles to insulation and siding to windows and doors. I have listed 7 rungs to climb for career advancement. I know what I write about, I was Salesman of the Year in 1987 for the Annapolis 84 Lumber, one of 84’s ten largest stores.

First, building supply can be a tough job, but stick it out. If you leave a job, you only want to advance up, not sideways to another building supply company for the same wages and opportunities. This is because every time you jump a job without advancement, you lose seniority and time on a job.

It's impressive to have four years’ experience in a row at a company. One, one, one and one years at different entry level positions makes you a dissatisfied job hopper. You're looking to the future after all.

Second, show up early, show up clean and groomed with a maintained uniform. Work safe, working the hours with joy; not calling off, reliably filling in on other’s shifts. Spouses need to be supportive of this. It's his or her life too. To get the position you really want, you might need to relocate.

Now I will tell you a pet peeve of mine, it's spouses who will not move because Mom will not be there at the new location. This isn't 1807 where four hundred miles was a lifetime. And your Mom and Dad won't pay your retirement.

Maximum Social Security's $ 2366 a month in 2011. If you don't take a good job because of an unwillingness to relocate, this immaturity could deny you a good retirement, putting you in the poverty level Social Security income bracket.

But my parents are sick you say? Well, they can move with you, move in if necessary. If they don’t want to move, you're not responsible. It’s a two way street. If they want your help, they have to give too. Life is not free after all.

Third, study. You need to be a functioning dynamo. Know the answers.

Fourth, learn to read blueprints. This is critical.

Fifth, learn practical knowledge. When you develop a friendship with a contractor, ask if you can help at a job site. You don’t want money, you want hands on knowledge. It's especially important to see how the installations line up blueprints and head knowledge.

Sixth, learn to sell. This involves trust and honesty. Don't push products, but you can suggest products and the customer will be grateful not to leave the store with the wood but no caulking. Importantly, suggested items are often high marked up products, such as nails.

Don't be afraid to reward customers who buy all their products from you with better discounts if you're allowed. This should be true anyway as most places give better prices based on size of order if they're contractor oriented.

Seven, you owe allegiance to your store, not the customer. The customer is out for him or her, not you. Why not, they don’t buy insulation for love. Also, even if you get chummy with a customer, guard your secrets. There's a saying,” Loyalty is ten percent, if they offer you ten percent more, take it.”

My co-worker once let a customer see his discounts compared to costs to show him what a deal he got. His discounts were fantastic, but it didn’t stop this “loyal” customer from shopping around now that he had key costs in his head.

When the series continues, how to jump up to a better job!


Jeffrey Ruzicka

Jeffrey Ruzicka is a retired executive of a small company that specializes in industrial water treatment. He lives happily with his wife in Western Pennsylvania and is a contributing writer toFinancialJobBank,FinancialJobBankBlog, ConstructionJobForce, ConstructionJobForceBlog andNexxt.


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