Creating profit requires spending less money than you make from your business. Especially, for home improvement contractors, the ability to create a profit can be challenging for several reasons. Obtaining work and hiring the right employees to have everything going according to the schedule are essential elements in making a profit.
But one of the most important aspects is purchasing the materials and supplies needed to complete the home repair and renovation job properly.
One of the simplest ways to save money is by purchasing items at a lower cost. This is where having discounts can be a real factor in ensuring making profit.
The major purchases made by contractors usually come from stores and outlets that sell building materials. In the old days, the local lumber or hardware store was the place where most contractors received discounts.
Today, there are a few large chain stores that make up much of the business contractors rely upon for their supplies. The two most popular in the US are Home Depot and Lowe’s.
But can contractors get discounts at major retail outlets such as Home Depot and Lowe’s?
The short and simple answer is yes, but there are differences between the discounts provided at both chain stores and a few other details you should be aware of. Let’s get into them right away.
Before getting to the specific differences, it should be noted that both stores have more than one way to receive a discount on purchases.
This applies to standard customers as well as contractors in the home improvement industry, depending on the type and number of materials and supplies that they purchase.
There are several other factors as well that determines how much discount can be availed. These include the following:
- Time of Year
- One-Time Offers
- Discounts for Veterans or Military
- Combination of Materials or Supplies
For example, certain items may be sold because they are overstocked, and the room is needed for additional inventory. Seasonal changes also mean that certain items will be on sale because they are in less demand.
A one-time offer is usually a discount offered by a store that entices a large purchase to be made. This often happens with the store manager or someone with authority to make such deals which results in a large purchase.
And finally, when certain items are purchased together, there may be a discount applied as well.
Both Home Depot and Lowe’s have contractor desks. This means they have specific people in charge of working with contractors to provide them with all the materials needed.
Contractor’s desks are not only for contractors but the requirements needed are usually reserved for those who make large purchases. This is normally out of the range for most homeowners, even if they have a project of considerable size.
A typical contractor will normally work on projects from the construction of a home to large-scale renovations, which usually means purchases well outside the range of most homeowners.
To meet the requirements of the contractor’s desk, the contractor must supply a list of items to the retailer. The items are then added up with the appropriate discounts applied. Additional discounts may also apply depending on the store that is chosen.
What follows is a comparison between the specific discounts offered at Home Depot and Lowe’s, so you can see the differences between them.
Home Depot Discount for Contractors
Home Depot has garnered a strong reputation for discounts on building materials, paint supplies, equipment, etc. And yet rather surprisingly, they do not have a discount card for contractors. The lack of a contractor’s discount card is perhaps the biggest difference between them and Lowe’s.
However, Home Depot does have plenty of ways for contractors to save money. It is all based on how much amount of materials and supplies are purchased at a single time.
1- Quote from Contractor’s Desk: The contractor’s desk will offer a quote for a submitted list of materials which is where the first discounts are applied. By submitting the list well ahead of time, home contractors can make solid estimates of their costs from the quote that they receive.
That said, it’s common practice for contractors to submit quotes to more than one store in order to find the best deal.
2- Buying in Bulk: One of the most popular means of garnering a discount at Home Depot is purchasing in bulk. In such situations, there is a minimum number that must be purchased, but the discounts may range up to 25% on most products.
For the most part, the discounts are for items that contractors normally purchase for a large job. In addition, bulk purchase discounts may be combined with other sales and pricing discounts which may result in considerable savings.
Home Depot has also created an app that alerts contractors to their volume pricing discounts so that they can be aware and take advantage of them if a job should arise.
3- Rental Discounts: One advantage Home Depot has is its equipment rentals for home improvement projects.
Contractors cannot afford to purchase outright all equipment that they might need for a job. In fact, some equipment may rarely be used. But when it is needed, having a rental discount can help save money.
And because rental discounts add up over time, a contractor that uses rentals frequently may get an even deeper discount for certain equipment (that costs more than $400 to $500). The results can be considerable savings depending on the number of rentals made over time, especially if it’s a large piece of equipment or appliance for jobs that will take a considerable amount of time.
Other savings include free shipping and discount gift cards. The discount gift card is available to homeowners as well as contractors. But a contractor may apply a special discount to an order. Also, a contractor may qualify for free shipping with purchases of as little as $45. This means that the materials and supplies will be delivered on-site, which saves the contractor even more money.
Lowe’s Discount Program for Contractors
Compared to the Home Depot store, Lowe’s offers different discount programs that help contractors save money on purchases. Some of the most popular include the following.
1- Contractor’s Card: This is an exclusive discount program available to Lowe’s customers but not to Home Depot. This discount program offers a 5% discount on purchases by cardholders, however, contractors need to qualify for the card much as they do for credit cards.
Once qualified, the contractor will receive the 5% discount along with rebates for shipping and access to other programs that are normally not available to homeowners. Basically, a contractor may qualify for several discounts and still have the standard 5% pricing cut from the contractor’s card applied.
2- Volume or Bulk Pricing: At Lowe’s, contractors that purchase at least $1,500 worth of materials are subject to their Volume Discount Program. This means that for bigger jobs, the volume or bulk pricing will kick in, which provides an additional discount.
The contractor should submit their list to the ProServices desk at Lowe’s, where they will receive a quote. The quote will include available discounts along with the volume pricing which means that a contractor may experience considerable savings above and beyond the standard pricing for their purchase.
3- Contractor’s Packs: These are packages that usually contain bulk supplies of screws, nails, caulk, and other items associated with construction or renovation. Such packs can be purchased by contractors at a substantial discount.
This also means that contractors who regularly use such supplies can purchase them at a discount and have them ready for the job.
4- Free Shipping: Just like Home Depot, Lowe’s offers free shipping for all orders that are above $45. When you consider the amount of time, money, and effort it takes to pick up such items and deliver them to the job site, the free shipping program can save a considerable amount.
All that is needed is the address and time when it should be delivered. The list is then double-checked to ensure that everything is included before the truck leaves the job site.
5- Discount Savings Cards: Again, just like Home Depot, Lowe’s offers a discount savings card or pre-paid gift cards that can be used for discounts that may range up to 10% depending on the purchase.
But what is interesting for Lowe’s customers is that the store will accept a discount gift card from Home Depot and still honor them making them a great place to shop if the latter does not have the materials or supplies that you desire.
6- Other Discount Programs: The most common way to get even greater savings is through the old fashion means of negotiating. The larger the order, the more likely Lowe’s will be willing to negotiate a fair price. This means that you might save an additional 5% up to 10% just by asking for it.
Despite the obvious nature of negotiating, it is only sparingly used. So, don’t be afraid to ask for even more discounts, especially on a large order.
Both Home Depot and Lowe’s may offer additional means of saving as well like for military personnel, veterans, and first responders. Also, large companies may be able to obtain discounts as well.
Be sure to keep up to date with current sales and the time of the year when some items may be discounted. By taking jobs during the off-season, you may be able to garner further savings for your purchases, no matter whether you choose to shop at Home Depot or Lowe’s.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.