Material Shortages… Staffing Shortages… Delays… Price Increases…
These words have become all too common in today’s business acumen. And although we are getting used to hearing these words, for the average person it can be hard to fully grasp what is going on and why there doesn’t seem to be an improvement – After all, businesses are opening back-up, factories are back in production… how long can this “squeeze” last?
If you have time to read through some economics articles you will find some interesting explanations and forecasts – I am not going to get into the health of the global economy here but rather shed some light on the issue from a local perspective.
From a plumbing company vantage point – replace plumbing with “electrical”, “HVAC”, or any other industry if you want – This spring, at the height of the pandemic, nearly every manufacturer and supply house was warning that the worst was yet to come – as they continue to fulfill back orders - they are not building inventory just trying to clear a back-log.
Well, what we are now experiencing is unprecedented material shortages (leading to rationing), product lines being discontinued and major delays in delivery - lead times which used to be 3-5 days can now be as long as 2 months or more. As the law of “Supply vs. Demand” dictates this is leading to frequent, and sometimes drastic price increases across the board. For example, our cost for a standard 40 gallon, residential hot water tank has gone up 58% in the last 12 months. Most of our other common materials have seen price increases anywhere from 50-100%. Not only is the amount of the increase troubling – it is also the frequency that is troubling. We used to check our price books quarterly, now it is nearly a full-time role just to monitor the weekly price fluctuations.
What does this mean to you, our client?
First and foremost, what we want to get across is that if you have a piece of equipment that is nearing the end of its life – now is not the time to put off that repair or replacement. It is being discussed globally that this economic “glitch” will have lasting consequences far beyond 2022/23. The price of goods and materials will not come down, they will continue to climb – it will never be cheaper than it is today to replace that old water heater, or water softener – that is a fact.
How have we responded?
We have adapted our business model, prioritizing customer needs and are working non-stop with all suppliers to ensure that we have inventory, and/or suitable alternates of all products required. We continue to increase our in-house inventory of products and capitalize when availability is released on hard to locate products. But there is still the very real possibility that when your water heater bites the dust, or your softener stops working, or you want a new kitchen faucet – there quite simply might not be one available to replace it right then and there. Rest assured, we have you, our clients, back and we are doing everything we can to keep price increases to a minimum and maintain the high level of service you have become accustomed to.
If there is anything you have putting off or are concerned about – call our office and we can walk you through our current status and provide some options and insight.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and patronage during these particularly difficult times. The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted all our lives - and our business has learned to pivot, change and react quickly, appropriately and safely to every new challenge.