The choice of a supplier for your business is a task that should not be taken lightly. If at any point your supplier does not ‘come through’, your business activities will be halted, and your ability to meet the needs of your customers will be compromised.
An unhappy customer is equivalent to an ailing business. Remember what Sam Walton said, “There is only one boss; your client and he can fire all of you in the company by simply spending his money somewhere else.”
Therefore, the next time you need to procure some supplies for your business, find out the following information about the prospective suppliers:
- Are they reliable? If you are not familiar with them, seek for testimonials from their former or existing customers.
- Ask yourself how you will benefit from the supplier. The benefits that we are talking about here are beyond monetary. It is the entire package of what they are offering, how they are delivering and the overall experience of doing business with them.
- What motivates this supplier? You should work with someone whose desire to satisfy their customer (you) is more than their need to get paid.
- How is their communication? Will they always be on hand to answer your questions and reassure you? You want to work with a supplier with whom you will have seamless communication to ensure efficiency.
- How stable is their business? Have they been meeting their financial obligations or are they struggling to stay afloat? Is it a growing business or is it one that is likely to fold in the coming days? You need to be confident that the business is giving you a good offer of price for the right reasons.
- How much do they value you? It is prudent to deal with a business that feels the impact of the income that they are earning from you. If you trade with a company that is way out of your league, you cannot, in all honesty, expect to be given priority when issues arise.
Now that we have covered the basics of the information that you need to have on your potential suppliers, let us briefly look at how to go about drawing a shortlist.
- Talk to people in the same line of business as you. Find out who supplies to them and how the experience of doing business with them has been.
- The Internet is another great source of information. Go to the websites of various providers of the goods and services that you need. You will learn a lot about businesses from their websites.
- Word of Caution: Be sure to verify any information that you acquire from the internet before you make any crucial decisions.
- The next step is to prepare a written description of the goods or services that you need: the specifications, quantities and how often you will need them. Also, include clarifications about any special discounts and mode of delivery.
- Do not perform the whole process remotely. You will learn through physical meetings a lot of things that you may not otherwise get to know. So, visit the potential companies. Ask to talk to a manager with whom you can share your expectations and ask questions.
- Compile the findings from all the activities above: Other people’s testimonials, the responses from the potential businesses and your evaluations from the meetings.
- Lastly, personally examine the goods and services that various companies are providing to make an assessment of the quality and authenticity.
Imagine someone using this process to determine your suitability as a supplier. You would need to be very good to come out on top. The process is involving, but it is exactly what you need to make a decision about someone who will be instrumental in the growth of your business.