Firstly a quote from a very famous, very rich entrepreneur “If you don’t make selecting good suppliers a part of your business growth plan, you’re likely to regret it”..
A lot of people tend to forget that the suppliers that they work alongside on a day to day business are essential to maintaining their business. Without have the raw materials to make what you sell or help promote what you sell you will always have a tough time growing your business.
Business owners need to get out of the mindset that their suppliers are just a means of receiving raw materials at the cheapest possible price. For a long time there had been a stigma around suppliers that we are all just grumpy old men that you have to speak to every now and again to request a quote of place an order. This really is not true. I speak to various suppliers on a daily basis and all of them would bend over backwards for me to make sure I get everything I need to make an informed, calculated decision.
What makes a good supplier?
The majority of up starting and growing businesses tend to focus on one thing when picking their suppliers… price. This is certainly at the top of the list when picking a supplier but there is so much more to a supplier than an invoice at the end of each month.
Many people will find this statement controversial but probably the most important trait to look out for in a supplier is competency. You’ll want to find a supplier that can offer you the latest and most up to date products and services. Your supplier should also have a good knowledge of their industry with a willingness to talk to you about how to improve your business and move it forward. Never settle for a supplier that is just happy to push the paper work out, you should be getting a whole lot more for your money. Any decent supplier will be more than happy to put in the time with you and work alongside you to help grow and improve.
Reliability is one of the keys traits to look for in a supplier. What systems and backup do they have to ensure you receive exactly what you ordered and within the times lines you set them. People always tend to look to big companies for reliability because of the financial backing they have, it is always worth looking in to smaller suppliers as well. With smaller businesses they will always fight a lot harder to keep your custom and will always make time to give you their full attention.
Stability is always another factor to look into. Never be afraid to ask your supplier how long they have been trading for or even ask for a credit reference. If they having nothing to hide then they will be more than happy to oblige. Also do a bit of your own research. Does the company have a high staff turnover? If so then there is something not quite right. How many regular customers do they have? It doesn’t matter if a company boasts they have 1,000 new customers a day, if those customers don’t use them again then yet again there is something not quite right.
Most people wouldn’t even think twice about it but location of your supplier is extremely important. It is no good your supplier being the cheapest one out there saving you lots of money if it takes you twice as long to receive your goods. Also their set prices may be cheaper but calculate how much extra carrier charges etc may be costing you on top of that. It is not always possible to get the supplier you need in your own town or even if your country but if you ever do need to go further afield always ask about extra costs that maybe incurred for storing, transporting etc.
Supplier tip – Build up a better relationship.
Going back to what I mentioned earlier, not all suppliers are grumpy old men at the end of a telephone. Make sure you speak to them and try to get to know them on a bit more of a personal level as well. The fact that your suppliers aren’t offering to work closely with you to improve quality, reduce defects and cut costs doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to. They may be under the impression that you are the reluctant one. So if you want a tighter working relationship with suppliers, let them know. You may also drop a hint that those who don’t want to work with you may see some of their orders being diverted to those who are more agreeable. Either way, you’ll know whether it’s your supplier’s reluctance, or their perception of your reluctance, that’s getting in the way.
If you would like to receive any further information on what you should expect from you Print supplier then contact a member of the CBF team any time. W: www.cbfnet.co.uk Twitter: @CBFprinters
Adam & the CBF Team