Your Suppliers and You

01 Nov Your Suppliers and You

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Your Suppliers and You

suppliers“I’m sorry boys, but their price is just better.” Fans of NBC’s The Office hear lines like this repeated over and over again as the intrepid employees of Dunder Mifflin try again and again to make sales based on their outstanding customer service. But is this true? Should a company’s first priority be price, or are there other factors that should be considered instead?

The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of variables you should think about when choosing a supplier, and price is not the most important one either. As the old adage goes, “You get what you pay for” and as a business owner it’s important to find a balance between price and quality. However, even “quality” has several subcategories to consider.

First of all, customer service is a major factor in any supply decision. It’s important that you have a relationship with your suppliers, more than simply writing checks every month and hoping for on-time deliveries. What if there’s a problem with the order? What if you need to place an emergency order? Do you know who to call, if anyone? Establishing a personal connection with at least one person in authority at a company will allow you to have access to that company when you most need it. This isn’t to say that you need to go out to dinner with all of your suppliers, but being on a first-name basis will help you when things go south. You should also know that if your personal connection isn’t at their desk, you’ll still be able to get quality customer service from the company, however.

Quality of product is a fundamental consideration in any supply decision. While they may be cheaper, so might their product. Nobody wants office supplies that fall apart or highlighters that run dry after only a couple of uses. Food on the edge of rotting will sink your restaurant and copy machines that spend half the time jammed are no good to you. Fortunately, quality is something that you can examine well in advance. A little research and time spent interviewing your potential suppliers will help you better understand who you’re dealing with and what to expect from them. It doesn’t hurt to ask other people in the industry who they use and why, either.

Finally, quality of agreement should be considered. When you take all of these other considerations and put them together on paper, is this the sort of thing that you’re willing to put your name to? Are your suppliers ready to sign a contract, or hesitant about delivery schedules and output requirements? Business owners are often surprised by how big a supplier may talk during a sales pitch or interview but be unwilling to commit that big talk to paper. If they hesitate, it might be because they’re unsure they can get the job done.

The final thing to keep in mind through all of this is that you can always change suppliers. It’s not always easy, but it’s certainly easier than sticking with somebody who is holding back your business. Be loyal to good businesses who have served yours well, but also be on the lookout for people who can do it better. Running your business is a juggling act, and any juggler will tell you that you need to keep your eye on the ball.



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