If you are a “Do It Yourselfer” working with industrial plastics at some point you’re going to need to get some plastics – probably early on in the project wouldn’t you say? And unless you have a source you know personally you’re going to have to request a quote from a plastics distributor. Redwood Plastics runs this “diy” blog for public interest but we know from our everyday experience with our customers in the public what information is lacking when they make a request for quote (RFQ). We’ll teach you some common pitfalls that slow down the quote process, then help you learn to request a quote with a couple of examples thrown in. Please note these apply to industrial distribution in general – not just plastics, and not just Redwood Plastics!
One question before we start – why quote?
Many customers consider industrial distributors to be like big box stores: all the wares on the website are presumably stocked in every conceivable profile. Reality is that plastics take up a lot of space! And inventory space is very expensive. Truth is, most distributors keep a few profiles of their most popular material in stock and the rest is brought in to-order. By knowing the quantity we can factor in necessary freight costs to bring the material in and ensure you get quantity discounts (if they exist).
Here is a fictitious example of a contact form request we often receive:
First name: Jim
Location: [Not Provided]
Phone number: [Not Provided]
Quote text: Price on acrylic sheet please.
Let’s go over the problems with this common RFQ:
1.) Most distributors have multiple locations, each branch supplies a geographic area. By not providing your location, the company rep does not know where your inquiry belongs. Prices often differ by location, even on the same product, due to freight and transport costs.
2.) Not providing a phone number may slow down the process. One phone call can permit the rep to get all the information they need in a short call and be much quicker than email.
3.) “Acrylic sheet” is not enough information to quote. We need to know the size of sheet, the thickness of sheet, the quantity of sheet(s), and the grade of acrylic. Most plastics come in many grades and can have various additives: this needs to be confirmed to quote accurately.
Here is an example of a good RFQ:
First name: Jim
Location: Lincoln, NB
Phone number: 555-555-5555
Quote text: Could I have your price on qty (2) 4′ x 8′ x 1/4″ clear, general purpose acrylic sheets?
Note in the above request no information is missing. We know which of our locations to connect you to, we know exactly how much plastic you need and what grade, dimensions and thickness you need. If you don’t know the grade or profile that’s OK, but providing the distributor with as much information as you can will make for a simpler, faster, process.
One note to leave you with. Most engineering plastic is manufactured in the United States, this means whether you’re in Canada, the U.S. or worldwide – if you’re purchasing from a North American plastics distributor you should request your quote in imperial, as materials produced in metric are often unavailable.
We hope you have found this little guide informative and useful!
All the best to you and your projects.