Pretty much all businesses will need suppliers. But not all suppliers are created equal, in fact, often there are some minefields out there. Sourcing reliable manufacturers and suppliers of services is no easy task, but in order to continue your business sometimes it is a bullet that you have to bite eventually.
Three magic words.
Better, faster, cheaper.
On face value, that is precisely what you want, but without doing your research, you might find that they are cheaper for a reason. Finding suppliers that will give you consistently excellent service, at the price that works for you isn’t easy. In fact, it is why so many companies have to try out many more companies before they find the one that works for them. Small businesses have even less wiggle room financially. So how do you find great suppliers?
It might feel like you want to give up and suffer the poor service that you are getting because it is easier to work with them then find someone else. But you are doing yourself a disservice by doing this. You are essentially paying for unsatisfactory service. You wouldn’t do that in a restaurant, and you wouldn’t do it to your own customers – so why should you accept it?
Hit the internet, search through trade magazines, call other businesses that you know who might be able to point you in the right direction. Be careful if you do this, though, often they won’t want to share.
Shift your focus away from the financial aspect, and think about the service only. While a significant discount is excellent, better service is… better.
You can get a big discount if you use the advertisements and coupons that you find in trade in magazines. And yes, this point does follow the one that said don’t focus on the cash. And that still holds true. This is a way that you can sample different suppliers without breaking the bank.
You might also find that services are offered that you hadn’t considered before. Sometimes is a company advertising they have a bulk amount of product to sell at rock bottom prices, other times its companies who want to give things away. Trade magazines are filled with useful information – so take advantage of that.
Once you have got a great supplier, you are going to need to implement an inventory or supplies management software. Doing this manually can be really difficult if you are running a business that uses a warehouse as storage. If you are the type of business that deals with dental supplies, then visit zensupplies.com.
A top tip is to remember that the small ads at the back are just as useful as the ones at the front, they just didn’t have the big budget to take up the space.
Before you start trying to work out how to move products from another country, or state. Try shopping local. Often it is overlooked because ‘there won’t be anything that close.’ But there is a big wide world – locally. You will be able to save a significant amount on shipping, lower the time it will take for your products to get to you, and you can even go and meet them in person to discuss your needs. If you need to localize your search, then google precisely what you have done previously, just add your local area into the search box too. It’s pretty simple, but many of us just don’t do it. And, skip the top three ads. They are being paid for to catch your attention, but often you will miss the one that is actually the number one on Google organically.
You can often find lists of suppliers, with their numbers. So get a pen and paper, and start calling them up. Sometimes when you take the time to talk to someone, it becomes more personal than with an email. ThomasNet is a one-stop shop for so many things. There is a comprehensive list of resources for products, services, CAD drawings, and industrial information. It is also equipped with an online supplier catalog. This includes detailed buying and specification information.
Depending on what your business is, you might be able to bulk over, with relatively low shipping from Amazon or eBay. Ideally, we would all shop locally for the things that we need, but sometimes it is more cost effective to purchase items from abroad. There are a range of B2B options, and bulk buying will always make things cheaper for you. Although many people opt for this option early on in their search, it really shouldn’t be something that is top of the list.
If you leave it too late, you will run out of options pretty quickly. Backing yourself into a corner is never a good idea. This will cause you to panic spend, and even buy something that isn’t exactly what you need – because you need to have the stock available. So, as soon as you think you are ready to swap suppliers start making moves to have that happen.
Hold On To Them
Suitable suppliers are hard to come by. But once you have been working with one for a while, you will have more leeway with them in terms of negotiations and pricing. Don’t do this too early though, and try not to make financial commitments that you will not be able to adhere later in the year.
Keep them sweet by always ordering what you need early, arranging face-to-face chats when possible and muffins won’t go amiss either.
Running a business is as much about the books as it is about the people. Consider good business to be just as much about providing exceptional products and services as it is about the people who enable you to do that. Suppliers and customers are the bread and butter of what you do. Treat them both with respect and make sure that you always keep the lines of communication open.