Monthly Archives: January 2019


6 Tips For Effectively Communicating With Your Suppliers

Tips To Improve Communication Between You And Your Suppliers

Communication is a critical component of any construction project–it’s also one of the biggest pain points for construction professionals today.

While communication is important in any industry, the essential role it plays specifically with regards to construction is not to be understated. Poor communication between key players on a construction project can equate to huge monetary losses, safety hazards, missed deadlines, and an overall unsuccessful finished product. Good communication in the construction industry is the difference between a project that’s completed on time and on budget, or a complete disaster.  

As a large concrete supplier with over 60 years of industry experience, we’ve seen first hand the toll poor communication can take on the overall success of a construction project. We also know improving communication is a two-way street–suppliers like us have just as much to lose if communication isn’t up to par.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips for suppliers (like ourselves) and top construction professionals, decision makers, contractors, subcontractors, and/or project managers (like you), for improving communication.  

1. Get On The Same Page From The Start

Discuss your process, priorities, and goals for the project at the very beginning of the partnership. The initial meeting is a great time to get it all out on the table. When a supplier understands what is important to you and the project, they’re able to work with that in mind. When partners work with the same goal in mind, great things happen.   

Having similar goals and values as your supplier is an important factor to consider as you start your supplier selection process.

2. Avoid Using Industry Jargon and Buzzwords

We’ve worked in the concrete industry for 60+ years. Some would say we’re experts in all things concrete. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you are! And vice versa.

We both work in the construction industry and while we have a general understanding of what the other does, messages sometimes get lost in translation when industry-specific jargon and buzzwords are used. Ensure each party is able to understand the details of the project by using general terms each is likely to understand. If a concept is foreign, take the time to explain it.

3.  Identify Your Chain Of Command And Points Of Contact

When you or your supplier doesn’t know who to contact with a question, concern, complaint, problem, etc–it can be frustrating. This is particularly a problem on a construction project where there are so many different parties involved.  

Don’t assume that because your chain of command is documented in the contract, that other parties understand it. The best way to avoid confusion is to provide a single point of contact. This person should hold some authority, be organized, have good communication skills, be willing to feed information to the rest of the team and make executive decisions. With a single point of contact, your back and forth messaging will remain consistent and create less opportunity for misunderstanding.

4. Define The Rules Of Engagement

Set the standards for efficient and effective communication. Each party involved will have different communication expectations, strategies, and techniques–find a common ground! Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • How often will you provide updates and reports? How often will you expect updates and reports?
  • What channels or methods of communication will be used? (A communication tool or software that both parties are familiar with can be a powerful way to operationalize effective communication.)
  • Are there certain hours or days when either party isn’t open to being contacted?
  • How much notice is required for cancellations, timeline changes, etc.?
  • What information do you need from the other party and when?     

5. Be Transparent

Often in construction, changes are made to the plan or timeline quickly, problems arise that are out of your control, or someone makes a mistake (hey, we all make ‘em!). Whatever it is, be transparent with all parties involved. You’ll want to give everyone else plenty of time to readjust to the changes that were made.

Transparency is critical in fostering a trusting and successful partnership free of tension and conflict.

6. Practice Active Listening

Listening is an essential, yet often forgotten part of communication. You must accurately receive a message in order to accurately relay it to your team. Poor listening has ruined its fair share of relationships, don’t let it add tension to yours.

The best listeners make eye contact, ask relevant questions, mirror gestures and expressions, don’t interrupt, and paraphrase what was said to show they understand.

Often times, just by listening attentively to one another we’re able to solve problems before they even arise. Wouldn’t that be nice?

These tips will ensure effective communication between you and your suppliers, therefore decreasing the tension put on the relationship and increasing the likelihood that your project is successful!

Though there are steps that can be taken throughout your partnership with a supplier to improve communication, it helps if you select a supplier who has a strong and proven track record for thorough communication.

During your supplier pre-qualification process, don’t be afraid to question the supplier’s communication techniques. If they don’t align with your preferences or needs, it may be an indication that the relationship wasn’t meant to be.

For more on how to choose the right supplier for your project, download our guide to pre-qualifying suppliers. The guide will help construction decision makers like you, develop a process for measuring a supplier’s ability to complete a project.

Download your copy of our Guide to Pre-qualifying Suppliers and start developing your team’s pre-qualification process.  

Show Me How To Pre-qualify Suppliers
a contractor practicing effective communication with their suppliers

A Step-By-Step Guide To Evaluating A Supplier’s Performance

Supplier Performance Management: A Step-By-Step Guide To Evaluating A Supplier’s Performance

Many companies rely heavily on their supplier’s performance for various aspects of their business process. Whether your suppliers provide materials, labor, equipment, or services, it’s likely that they play a critical role in your business’s overall success. With so much on the line, you must depend on your supplier’s ability to be timely, deliver high quality, maintain a professional relationship and keep your best interests in mind.

If your business’s day-to-day operations involve a supplier, it’s important to prequalify and select the right man for the project initially, but also to continuously evaluate their performance throughout the partnership. Through the evaluation of a supplier’s performance, companies can ensure and maintain the best service while eliminating suppliers who fail to comply with performance requirements.   

Supplier performance management is a business practice that is used to measure, analyze, and manage the supplier’s performance in an effort to cut costs, alleviate risks, and drive continuous improvement for both yours and your supplier’s teams.

The businesses that have the best luck with suppliers have a formalized system in place to track and evaluate their supplier’s performance. Some might even credit the smooth operation and profitability of their companies to their supplier evaluation process.

Step One: Establish An Evaluation Criteria

It’s important to determine what characteristics your suppliers need to have, demonstrate, and maintain in order to continue doing business with your company. From the start of the relationship, they should be entirely aware of these characteristics and know that they will be regularly (monthly, quarterly, annually) evaluated based on them.  

Your business’s industry, processes, and specific needs will dictate the criteria used to evaluate the performance of your suppliers. Your criteria may include:


Has your supplier delivered the right goods or provided the right services? How often do you come across product flaws or service mistakes? If the success of your business hinges on the accuracy of your suppliers, this is an important factor to evaluate on.


Does your supplier do their very best to stick to your timeline? Now sure, depending on the industry, certain things might come up that are out of your supplier’s control. But if a supplier is frequently late with no explanation, it’s your business that suffers.


Does your supplier respond to your inquiries or concerns? When you make an order, have a question, or need to address a concern, are you able to get in direct contact with a representative? Believe it or not, a supplier who prioritizes responsiveness can save you a lot of stress!

Capability and Flexibility

Can you depend on your supplier to meet and accommodate your needs on a regular and/or long-term basis? It seems like a no-brainer, but you’ll really want to ensure your supplier can meet your needs.

Quality Control

Does the supplier consistently provide you with the best quality goods and service? How is the service? Consider the owner, sales rep, delivery drivers, and accounts receivable. Are they people you enjoy and are comfortable doing business with?

You may have noticed we left a somewhat important factor off the list–cost. While cost is a big factor in choosing and evaluating a supplier, it should not be a factor you weigh the heaviest on. Instead, focus on the factors we’ve listed. Keep in mind, a supplier can have the lowest price but the lowest quality of work, too.

Once you’ve established criteria for evaluation, you can proceed with your evaluation process.  

Step Two: Classify Suppliers For Evaluation

If your supply chain is made up of multiple suppliers, each of whom covers a different aspect of your business process or has more of an influence on your business than another, it wouldn’t make sense to evaluate them all the same way.

Decide how to classify your suppliers and then evaluate them according to the effect they have on your business process. By divvying up suppliers into two categories, such as critical and non-critical or primary and secondary, you can devote more time to measuring the performance of your critical suppliers.

Step Three: Determine Roles In The Evaluation Process

Though it will depend on the resources you have available to allocate towards the process–this classification step will help you determine who in your organization should be responsible for evaluating which supplier. There likely isn’t a single member of your organization who gets the full picture of each supplier’s performance. Those who work closest to the supplier should complete the evaluation. From there, who will be responsible for reviewing and making decisions based on the evaluation?

Step Four: Lay Down A Method For Evaluation

There are a few techniques businesses will use for rating a supplier’s performance. Techniques include evaluation forms, surveys, system metrics, and software applications.

You might consider crafting a survey that asks your own employees to rate and answer questions pertaining to the supplier. You can review how many corrective actions and/ or warnings you had to issue a supplier. Look at how many products you had to scrap or return because the supplier failed to meet specifications. You may also choose to monitor suppliers through a periodical auditing process.

The bottom line is that you need to determine a method that will allow you to generate reports throughout the course of the relationship.

Step Five: Know When To Say Goodbye

As you monitor a supplier’s performance, you have to decide when to praise them and when to issue a red flag or part ways.

Be sure to show appreciation for a job well done. Continue to do business with suppliers who consistently demonstrate excellent performance.

If you have a supplier you feel isn’t performing to their full potential, or to your expectations, raise a red flag, issue a warning–whatever you feel is necessary. By giving a warning, you give the supplier an opportunity to correct the problem. Remember, it’s not about reviewing your supplier’s performance as much as it’s about helping improve your partnership.

Finally, there’s no reason to tolerate ongoing bad service or a partnership that isn’t mutually beneficial. You may have to let go of a supplier that is underperforming or a bad fit–that’s ok!

Now, of course, a prerequisite to evaluating your suppliers is prequalifying and selecting them. Prequalify the right supplier from the get-go, and you’ll mitigate the risk of selecting the wrong supplier.

See our Contractors Guide to Pre-Qualifying Suppliers for more on how a contractor can establish a pre-qualification process that leads them to the right supplier for their project.   

At the end of the day, the relationship you have with your suppliers is a business partnership. If both parties are working to make sure the partnership is a success, it will be!

Contractors Guide To Pre-Qualifying Suppliers

Have questions? We’d be happy to answer them from a supplier perspective. Contact us here!    

contractor overseeing supplier's performance

2018: The Year of Showing ‘Rock. Solid. Support!’ For The Community

Concrete Supply Company’s ‘Rock. Solid. Support!’ for the Carolina Community

As a company, it is our mission to be the premier provider of quality ready-mix concrete and related services while acting in the best interest of our employees, customers, shareholders, and the community.

Community engagement has always had a special place in the Concrete Supply Co. culture. For over 60 years now our company has put a heavy emphasis on supporting and strengthening the local community. But over the last few years, we’ve really stepped up our efforts in the community through our ‘Rock. Solid. Support!’ outreach program and the results have been truly remarkable.

Join us as we take a look back at 2018–the year we showed our ‘Rock. Solid. Support!’ for the community–with Concrete Supply Co. Director of Human Resources, Chip Wildman.

Concrete Supply Co. Encourages Community Engagement

concrete supply employees giving back to the community

Every company should prioritize corporate social responsibility within their culture–but that doesn’t mean every company does. At Concrete Supply Co., we realize the long-term benefits that stem from growing the local community where both our employees and clients live and work.  

“As an organization, we learned a long time ago that a healthy community creates healthy local businesses. There is a direct correlation between our support of local services and our success.  And we talk about this openly across our company as a model we chose to follow, across the Carolinas,” says Chip.

On an individual level, we encourag our employees through the ‘Rock. Solid. Support!’ outreach program to find their own ways to get involved in the community. We support numerous employee-driven fundraisers throughout the year and team members regularly partake in local community events. The fact that these efforts are employee-driven makes it that much better.

Chip commented, “Nothing drives engagement and satisfaction more than a commitment being made personally. It signifies importance to you as an individual, and an appreciation that what matters to you is backed by a team. It’s powerful, and can make things happen!”

As if the cultural importance of giving back to the community wasn’t enough to motivate employees, we offer employees further incentive to give with paid volunteer days.  

“Each year, every Concrete Supply Co. employee has the opportunity to use 2 additional paid days away from work to donate their efforts to any community service or nonprofit of their choice. Their choice; we simply want to support their engagement!” says Chip.

It’s important to work with other companies whose goals, values, and culture align with your own.

The Organizations We Proudly Support

In 2018, Concrete Supply Co. partnered with numerous charities and organizations in the Carolinas. We make it a point to ensure that the causes that are most important to our employees are important to us as well.

Below are just a few of the organizations that we worked with or supported over the last year:

United Way

A nonprofit organization focused on advancing the common good in communities across the world particularly with regards to education, income, and health. Find more information on United Way.

concrete supply truck wrapped for community group United Way

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charlotte

An organization that provides a safe, affordable and caring “home-away-from-home” for families of children receiving treatment in Charlotte-area medical facilities. See what you can do for the RMH of Charlotte.

Hope Haven Inc.

A foundation determined to break the cycle of homelessness and addiction through providing life skills for chemically dependent adults. Learn more about Hope Haven Inc.

Special Olympics of North Carolina

 An organization that provides athletes of all ages with intellectual disabilities, year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports. Sound like a cause you could be interested in?


concrete supply truck wrapped for the local community special olympics

Crisis Assistance Ministries

 A Mecklenburg County non-profit that prevents homelessness and preserves dignity for Charlotte’s working poor. Want to give?

American Cancer Society / Race for the Cure

 An organization (and events) with the sole goal of helping to free the world from cancer. Find an event you and your team can participate in.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Creating zero tolerance for domestic violence in the U.S through changing public policy, increasing understanding of the impact of domestic violence, and providing programs and education that drive change. A cause worth getting behind.

Touch a Truck 

A community-wide event where both kids and kids at heart have the opportunity to see, touch, climb and learn about vehicles of all types–including construction trucks like ours! Get involved!

Habitat for Humanity

A nonprofit organization that helps people internationally build or improve a place they can call home. If your company is involved in the construction process, Habitat for Humanity would be a great opportunity to give back.

And many more!

How We Do Our Part

“We do a little bit of everything!” says Chip. From lending a few helping hands on volunteer days to fundraising. Donating yards of concrete to churches and schools (depicted below) or wrapping our trucks to spread awareness.

concrete supply lays slab for community


“We have multiple trucks that have been wrapped to support specific organizations such as the United Way, Levine Children’s Hospital, Armed Forces, Breast Cancer Awareness, etc.,” Chip tells us.

concrete supply truck wrapped for community armed forces

“The initiative is SO popular with our employees that we currently have a pretty long backlog of requests. A great problem to have as it’s an indication of our employee’s desires to support the community matching up with the Company’s desire to drive this form of engagement,” says Chip.

Our Community Engagement Will Continue into 2019

2018 was a great year for us in terms of community engagement. We gave in so many ways to a wide range of organizations. We were even awarded the 2018 NRMCA “Concrete Cares” award, an award the Manufacturers, Products, and Services Division of the National Ready Mix Concrete Association gives to recognize companies for their service.

On a final note, Chip says, “Our Company is very fortunate to be surrounded by employees with BIG hearts, and there is never a shortage of volunteers, and/or new ideas of ways we can help in our community. We couldn’t be more proud of the tremendous efforts that the employees put forth each and every year to partner with us as Company to show our ‘Rock. Solid. Support!’ in every way possible.”

The devotion we have towards giving back to our local community is the same devotion we have towards everything we do as a company. When you work with the Concrete Supply Co., you can count on us to give our absolute best no matter the project. Let’s talk–contact us! If you’re interested in learning more about the organizations that Concrete Supply Co. is proud to support, check out our community page.

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concrete supply truck wrapped for United Way