Your 5 Minute Guide to Finding Reliable Electrical Contractor Supply for Electrical Projects

An electrical contractor uses a multimeter to test circuits in an electrical supply panel.

Author - Brett Knox
May 2, 2024 - 5 MIN. READ

As an electrical contractor in today’s market, you may feel like the clock is always ticking. Electrical projects are based on set schedules, and timely delivery of the right supplies is key. Delays can cost you time, money, and business.

Unfortunately, long lead times for switchgear and other electrical contractor supply are a reality of today's market, and prices continue to creep up.

Accordingly, this article will outline a streamlined approach to selecting reliable suppliers and finding electrical contractor supply at competitive prices without spending hours per day comparison shopping or negotiating with suppliers.

Tips for Identifying Quality Electrical Suppliers

1. Do they Support Online Platforms?

One key question to ask new and existing distributors is do they support online marketplaces or buying platforms. To survive and compete as an electrical contractor in today's market, you need to digitize. That means getting, storing, and accessing accurate procurement data. You need to know what you buy, the prices you pay, how many units you buy, whom you buy from, and how often.

The only way to do this effectively is to implement an online platform that provides you with access to all this purchasing data. Instead of requesting spend reports from your suppliers and accounting department, this information is immediately available so you’re not wasting time compiling and analyzing data in Excel.

Your online procurement platform should be easy to implement and make buying fast and easy for your employees. Gone are the days of phone calls, paper POs, and jumping between supplier websites. These typical behaviors are time-consuming and very inefficient.

It should also make finding reliable suppliers fast and easy. You can leverage your platform to send structured requests for information seeking details on supplier familiarity with your specific electrical contractor supply needs, product availability requirements, product needs, and any other relevant information.

Finally, adopting a procurement platform will allow you to direct your users to your preferred suppliers and away from non-preferred ones, protecting your savings and increasing your negotiating power.

Procurement should not be a full-time job, let the digital procurement platform do the work for you.

2. Seek Recommendations from Peers

Look to respected and trusted peers in the business for guidance on choosing suppliers. Word travels fast, and you may hear more recent information with word-of-mouth recommendations.

Stay on top of the market through networking, and be sure to join and participate in local meetings of professional organizations, like the National Association of Electrical Contractors (NECA) or the Independent Electrical Contractors Association (IEC).

3. Check Industry Certifications and Ratings

There are several ways to check supplier qualifications as well as the quality of the electrical contractor supply they offer.

Supplier Evaluation

Keep track of the top electrical contractor supply brands. Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) publishes top-of-the-industry lists regularly. It’s a good idea to subscribe to keep track of the market.

Also, determine if your prospective supplier belongs to the National Association of Electrical Distributors. Membership is a good indication that they are staying current in the business.

Quality Assurance

The National Electric Code (NEC), also known as the National Fire Protection Association 70, governs all such work in the United States. Any component sold here must be approved by an independent testing agency, also referred to as an Authority Having Jurisdiction. Rather than dictating a particular agency, NEC has several acceptable ones, called Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs).

Always require your supplier to certify that their components are NEC-compliant and approved by a specific NRTL.

4. Review Electrical Contractor Supply Testimonials

Customer testimonials can play a crucial role in quickly assessing the reputation and reliability of electrical contractor supplies. These testimonials offer insights into previous customers' experiences, providing valuable feedback on the quality of products, the reliability of suppliers, and the level of customer service. Reading testimonials allows you to gauge the trustworthiness of suppliers and make informed decisions based on real-life experiences shared by others in the industry.

Of course, it's important to evaluate the source of the testimonial before basing a purchasing decision on testimonials alone. Does the supplier's website only publish five-star reviews? That's a red flag. Do the critical reviews provide specific information about why the previous customers were unhappy? Don't just look at the star ratings; be sure to delve into the written reviews to understand as much about the product and supplier as possible.

5. Are They Strategically Aligned with your Business?

Ask direct questions to determine if their business strategy aligns with yours. Do they specialize in commercial or residential? What geographic areas do they serve? Where are their distribution centers located? How do they control the quality of service and supplies? Which technology enablers do they use?

Take the time to build your list of relevant questions. The degree of clarity and responsiveness to your questions is a great initial indicator of prospective suppliers’ interest in your business.

Bonus Tip: Save Time and Money the Easy Way

If you don’t have time to evaluate current and alternative distributors, join a purchasing program like Raiven. Companies like Raiven combine the buying power of all their members and negotiate deep discounts, service terms, and exclusive pricing agreements with industry-leading suppliers and manufacturers. You’ll pay less for switchgear, EV charging stations, lighting, wire, conduit, load shedding, tools, and more. You don’t have to evaluate and squabble with suppliers, this has already been done for you.

Gain access to pre-negotiated discounts of 7%-30% from industry-leading manufacturers and distributors, including Alpscontrols, ChargePoint, EnelX/Juicebox, Ferguson, Grainger, Graybar, HD Supply, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Office Depot, Sunbelt Rentals, Schneider Electric, and more!

Raiven is committed to supporting electrical contractors by providing unbeatable prices on equipment, parts, and maintenance supplies. Experience the convenience of our streamlined purchasing platform for quick and efficient procurement. Other key benefits:

Win more electrical jobs and make more profit by joining Raiven. Visit Raiven to learn more about how we can help you lower costs and increase margins