Whether your business manufactures bespoke products for other companies or it’s a more straightforward customer-facing operation, you’re going to be somehow dependent on suppliers to keep your whole business moving. Because these vendors will have such a profound impact on the success of your business, it’s essential to know how to evaluate them properly. Here are three of the most important qualities to assess in every prospective supplier…
While a B2B vendor may be performing brilliantly right now, that’s no guarantee that they’re going to stick to that high standard indefinitely. With this in mind, it’s essential that you look for evidence that the company is committed to high standards of quality. If you’re using them to source an instrument, whether that’s a digital hotplate or a forklift, then your standards of quality should be more centred on the construction and capability of it. If you’re buying raw materials, on the other hand, focus on the business itself, and their standards for screening any products which they ship out. The supplier also needs to show some evidence that they’ll stay committed to you, the customer, for the duration of your agreement.
As with any big business decision like this, it’s also very important to consider the cost of choosing any given supplier over another. How does their price per item or bulk order compare to any other firms that you’re thinking about buying from? When you’re mulling over the price, it’s also a good idea to test the waters for negotiation as well. Liaise with your potential suppliers, and ask about the kinds of prices they offer for larger, recurring orders. Now, while it’s important to find a supplier with competitive pricing, I’ve put this point in the middle for a reason. Compared to factors such as quality standards and their historical financial health, the price of a supplier’s products isn’t all that essential. It’s much better to pay through the nose and deliver a high standard of quality to your customers than it is to pay peanuts and end up making a poor product.
A lot of newbie entrepreneurs falsely believe that the company culture of their suppliers has absolutely nothing to do with them. This is false! All of the strongest business relationships in history have been between two companies with similar cultures, and I assure you this isn’t coincidence. If your biggest priority when it comes to your product is quality, but the business you’re buying from cares a lot more about deadlines, then this clash in your cultures is sure to cause difficulties at some point. Your supplier will be cutting corners to make sure it ships enough to keep its profits up, and meanwhile your customer rapport will suffer due to you selling an inferior quality of product. This is just one of the many examples where differences in company culture can seriously strain the supplier-buyer relationship.
I hope that these tips leads you to finding your ideal supplier. Remember to keep these three C’s in mind!