Building a vendor network

Thinking about moving back the garage has put me in mind of another interesting facet of our business: The network of vendors we’ve created over the years.

With respect to the garage, we needed to determine exactly where the property line is so that we know how much to cut. This is a job for a surveyor and, fortunately, we have two different ones we’ve used extensively in the past.

Chopping back the garage is a weird little project, because it’s too small for our main contractors but too complex and important for a handyman. So it’s nice that we have a guy who’s done small buildings for us in the past and does a bunch of the work himself. He’s happy to do this one with an assistant or two and make a few thousand bucks for a few days of work.

To clinch the deal, we agreed to build a little metal gate for our neighbor allowing him to access the alley from the side of his garage. Do you know whom you would call if you needed a bit of custom welding done? We do, because we have metal-work on all our projects.

Obviously, with enough research and time, anyone can find relevant service providers to come out and do one-off jobs.

But what we’ve assembled is a network of people whose work is reasonably good, with whom we’ve worked out payment procedures (surprisingly difficult, if you’re dealing with very small businesses), and with whom we have on-going business relationships.

That last piece is important, because it means that any particular job is not the last job they’ll ever do for us, meaning they are incentivized to do decent work at a fair price.

And that’s what we’re looking for, on every project we do for ourselves and our clients.