Choosing the best suppliers for your business is a crucial ingredient for the recipe of success. You need to be able to deliver the services and quality that is expected from your customers, and the suppliers you choose are part of making that run smoothly. By taking your time and following these steps, you can carefully select the right suppliers.
Before you choose your supplier, you need to make sure that they meet your expectations. Make a list of criteria that they need to meet. Think about the issues you face and use that to build your list. Consider points like:
- Payment terms and conditions
- Returns policies
- Point of contact person – will you deal with a single account manager
- Minimum order/maximum order
- Lead times
You will likely have more points that closer fit your business; they will allow you to evaluate suppliers quickly.
Securing the right suppliers, whether it is for tacky floor mats or parts for your products – takes time. You have to decide how you are going to find the suppliers. You can publish your requirements in trade publications and call for bids (more on this in a minute).
What you have to have clear in your mind is the timeframe that you have to conduct your search and accept bids. Work with other members of your team to make a shortlist.
When you put a call out for bids, you can choose how that is going to look. Typically there will either be a Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP). You will need to include the specifics of your requirements so that suppliers can give you the best information. You should include some or all of the following:
- Products and/or services needed
- Delivery dates
Each submission that you get will have varying strong points. Match the information against the criteria that you have specified and considered how each bid stacks up. If you have questions, make a note of them and start making phone calls. You can line up the ones that you find the most interesting and arrange to go and speak in person. You will have to decide how important price is to you, because you may find one or two don’t match some criteria, but the price-point is incredible. And, be sure to ask for the total costs, including VAT, taxes, and other fees.
Once you have found the right supplier, the on-going relationship is going to be integral for you meeting all of your outgoing business obligations. Ensure that you have a direct contact and that there are regular performance reviews.
This will not only help you keep tabs on their work, but it will mean that you can have a more in-depth look at your own processes and see if there is room for improvement from your side too.
With the right supplier on board, you will get a great working relationship, increased productivity, and know that your products and/or services are of the highest possible standard.