In Summary - Builders' Merchant
The Work - Builders' Merchant
Builders' merchants supply building craftspeople such as plumbers, builders, electricians etc, with the items that they need to do their jobs. They also sell these products to members of the public.
Builders' merchants differ from the large superstores that cater for do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts in the range of their stock and the expertise of their staff. Most builders' merchants specialise in particular types of supplies such as timber, electrical or bathrooms. They would have members of staff who would be qualified to talk about their designated area.
The trade is divided into two areas. The 'heavy side' covers sand, cement, bricks, ballast etc, and the 'light side' provides plumbing, sanitary ware, decorating equipment etc.
Work as a builders' merchant involves all the tasks done in general distribution. One major aspect of the work is ordering stock, both in bulk and for individual customers. In large organisations, this is computerised and goods are automatically reordered when they fall below a certain level. In smaller firms, stock has to be counted manually and the related paperwork is also done by hand. In either case, there is a great deal of clerical work and dealing with office equipment and office procedures. Also, there are often long discussions with suppliers about the right type and amount of stock needed. This side of the job may also mean doing some work in the warehouse, checking in items, storing and distributing them. They need to store their stock in such a way that it can be easily be inspected by prospective customers.
Builders' merchants have a lot of contact with customers, both from telephone enquiries and assisting people face-to-face. Much of this involves giving advice, not only on which goods to buy (such as the best type of tap to install or the correct kind of wood for a particular purpose) but also on which tools and fittings to use.
Having advised the customer, builders' merchants then have to complete the selling process. This can vary from taking a few pence for a couple of nails, to handling cheques and credit cards for thousands of pounds. Apart from operating a till, it entails completing detailed receipts and invoices and often calculating value added tax (VAT) as well.
In addition to these duties, staff may occasionally help out in the yard, making up orders and loading/unloading products. They must have an accounts office so that someone can keep track of big orders and big customers who may have accounts open.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Resolve customer complaints regarding sales and service.
- Oversee regional and local sales managers and their staffs.
- Plan and direct staffing, training, and performance evaluations to develop and control sales and service programs.
- Determine price schedules and discount rates.
- Review operational records and reports to project sales and determine profitability.
- Monitor customer preferences to determine focus of sales efforts.
- Prepare budgets and approve budget expenditures.
- Confer or consult with department heads to plan advertising services and to secure information on equipment and customer specifications.
- Direct and coordinate activities involving sales of manufactured products, services, commodities, real estate or other subjects of sale.
- Confer with potential customers regarding equipment needs and advise customers on types of equipment to purchase.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Selling or Influencing Others Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Developing and Building Teams Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Coaching and Developing Others Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
Interests - Builders' Merchant
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.
Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
As a builders' merchant, you'll need to be fit and healthy as you'll spend much of your time on your feet, and you may have to help with moving and lifting heavy goods and materials. Depending on the sort of products being sold, the work may not be suitable if you have allergies to dust or have chest complaints.
It is important to be able to learn quickly, and to build up product knowledge. You also need to be confident when dealing with suppliers and customers, the majority of whom are experienced trades people seeking expert assistance. You should have a certain level of expertise in the items or products you are trying to sell.
A good standard of numeracy is vital since you'll have to make calculations, estimate both cost and quantity of goods and cope with large amounts of money. The office duties involved require a good standard of written and spoken English. A working knowledge of computers is essential.
Communication and people skills are important.
Entry Requirements - Builders' Merchant
Pay & Salary - Builders' Merchant
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 18k - 38k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.