Your customers judge you on quality and value. Here’s what you should look for in a supplier, and why they’re so crucial to your business.
All businesses need suppliers of one kind or another. From services such as printing, IT support, digital services and transport, to goods like stationary, machinery and retail stock. Whatever supplier you need, it should never be just a case of selecting the first one you see who sounds half-way decent in the search results.
Time spent considering what you need in a good supplier who will fit your business and bring long-lasting value, is time well-spent. And it’s worth remembering that a good supplier can improve your business beyond the actual goods and services they supply to you.
Do their values and approach align with yours?
If you share similar values and appreciate each other’s approach to business and people, there is a better chance you are going to benefit from a longer lasting relationship. You want to be able to pick up the phone and talk to your supplier whenever there is an issue, you want to make a change or discuss the future. If you’re on the same wavelength, this is all going to come so much more naturally and easier.
Many services impact on your need to be compliant, for instance GDPR and data protection, and other industry quality standards. Does your supplier come fully compliant, and in turn, care about your compliance? A good supplier will know about the relevant compliances inside-out and will ensure they’re good practice positively affects you too.
Are they financially stable and around for the long term?
How long has the supplier been in business? Have they taken on new staff and shown any areas of growth, or, conversely, downsizing? These are all things you can research. Look for customer reviews and far they stretch back. Are those customers still with them? You don’t want to invest time and money in a new relationship for them to disappear overnight.
What else will they bring?
The knock-on effects of a good supplier can positively affect other areas of your business. For instance, a good IT support provider who gets to know your business may be well-placed to suggest better software, improved technical processes, for example, that will improve your operation. Their expertise, beyond the service you’re paying for can be extremely valuable to you.
Are they a distributor? Know who you’re dealing with
When you pick up the phone to call them, is it them that will provide your service, or someone else? Many suppliers outsource their services to other providers, and are simply the distributor for that service. The company you call, and who your contract is with, is not necessarily the one providing you. Find out if there is this extra layer of relationship with your service provider. You may prefer to deal with the people who do the work, not the distributor who simply outsources the work and marks it up in price to pass to you.
Can you see them as more than a supplier, but a partner?
Does the supplier have the ability to be with you and service your developing business requirements far into the future, and have a genuine desire to do so? A good supplier, through a trusting, long-lasting relationship can become a valued, and valuable, partner to your business, helping you to benefit from the culture of innovation and genuine technical expertise they can bring to other areas of your business.
When choosing a supplier, it’s important to think beyond the actual service or goods they are supplying and look at all these areas we’ve outlined to really understand the potential gain from a good quality supplier. Knowledge and expertise advantages as well as compliance and technical ability to serve your business are the essential by-products of a good supplier relationship that you should be looking to secure for your long-term success.
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