Volume 43, Issue 9 - September 2008

Buyers's Block

Make Sure You Are PO’d
Save Money and Trouble with On-Time Purchase Orders
by Paul Bieber


There are many ways to save money on your glass purchases. As the song from “The Sound of Music” says, let’s start at the very beginning—let’s write a purchase order (PO) that saves money.

Always create a written PO. Always. Most of the mistakes that surfaced at my company were on verbal orders. So what if the mistake is a vendor problem? You still don’t have your glass on time! Whether you fax, or e-mail, it is up to you to clearly specify what you want.

What should be on your purchase order? Here we go:

• Your company name, address, phone, e-mail;

• Your name, your job name, the quote number you have;

• If this is part of an order with releases, say that on your PO;

• Order date and ship date;

• Your terms—if you are COD do you take a discount? (You should!) State where you will leave the check if you are not there for the delivery; and

• If this is confirming a verbal order, write the person’s name who took your order, with a very bold “DO NOT DUPLICATE” on your PO. Don’t expect your vendor to catch duplication here. If you fax an order, and the fax stutters, call and see if the fax went through before you fax it again. This is a huge cause of duplicate orders.

Forgetting the basics will cause a delay in your product, or worse, someone will guess what you need and get it wrong.

Let’s add some very important things to a basic purchase order:

• A clear description of the item(s) ordered, including size, quantity and tint;

• On insulating glass units, write the overall thickness, the thickness and type of glass and on which side the coatings or patterns are. On tempered glass, specify the edgework. With laminated and tempered, place clear instructions on whether you do or do not want a logo;

• Price each line item. It is easier to price now than double check everything when paying the invoice. If you don’t price your order, you lose all chances of negotiating price after the fact;

• If the products you order carry an oversize or shape surcharge, write that amount on the order;

• If this order is tax-exempt, state that on the PO in big letters. It is not easy to go back to a vendor saying this was a hospital job and you want back the sales tax;

• Write clear special delivery instructions if early morning or special times are needed and then confirm with a call to the shipping dispatcher. Give clear details for alternate deliveries like “leave at store next door.” For residential jobsites, include a map with details;

• If this job is part of a special order, with special terms, put that on the order. Make sure the correct terms are on the invoice when you receive it, so you are not backed up to a wall at 30 days, when you were promised 90 days on a large job; and

• If the driver calls you an hour before delivery, put that on the order. Your regular driver can be on vacation, or taking someone else’s route, and the replacement driver won’t know your routine.

If your vendor sends an acknowledgement, read it immediately, comparing it to your order. If its priced differently, hammer it out now rather than later. Check the date they expect to ship and the terms. It is your responsibility to confirm that the information is correct.

Just because you write something on a PO doesn’t mean your vendor will see it or understand. On anything that is complicated, follow-up with a phone call to ensure understanding.


© Copyright 2008 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.