What Should You Look For In A Reliable Supplier?

No business is an island. This means that it’s not just important to cultivate your own stability of a business, but we must vet and consider how our relations to other businesses impacts our own strategy. This can include everything, from outsourcing small tasks from freelance professionals, all the way up to how and where you acquire your office furniture.

Of course, the term ‘supplier’ has changed slightly in recent years. A ‘supplier’ can now provide you with utilities or services as opposed to a fixed product, which means that it’s important to think about the whole spectrum of connecting with other businesses, rather than just who you source your most foundational inventory from.

That said, it’s essential to know what your principles as a firm are when dealing with suppliers. This not only allows you to find consistent results, but can help you become a better business in connection with that supplier too, knowing what your priorities are, how to communicate, and more. Without further ado, then, let’s get started:

A Breath Of Inventory

While some suppliers can provide you with one or two very special items, it’s good to know that a firm has an inventory they can recommend to you for a wide array of needs. For instance, sure it might be worthwhile for you to purchase the best fishing rods for your business from a certain manufacturer, but it can also be nice to order those rods from a wholesaler that provides both those and additional bait and accessories.

While this is not a hard and fast rule, it can be worthwhile to value this when choosing between competing businesses. For instance, those companies that provide stainless steel butt weld fittings and well as a range of additional fittings, tubes and pipe, valves, tube clamps and more can provide you with much more utility without having to shop around so much or deal with so many individual accounts at once.

Reliable Delivery Times

While it’s true that some suppliers expect orders well in advance of fulfillment (such as specialist part suppliers for automobiles), others may expect an immediate turnaround (such as chefs purchasing fresh fish from traders selling the morning catch).

What matters is figuring out what a reliable delivery time looks like for your business, and what you’re prepared to accept. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that fast delivery times are met with prompt payment so that you can ensure a matched relationship in which time is valued. As you can see, sometimes, through developing that relationship, you can mold this supplier into the provider you need.

Promotions Or Bulk Order Discounts

While suppliers are under no obligation to give you discounts ‘just because,’ even if you’re a long-term customer, it can be nice for them to offer bulk order discounts, or to provide promotions once in a while.

This may help you when stocking up for the Christmas manufacturing rush, for instance, or it may allow you to carry on those savings over to the project by ordering a range of home fixtures all at once. While this is not a guarantee and promotions or cut costs do not necessarily denote a good supplier, it might be a virtue important to you as you make these decisions.

Excellent Communication

This is perhaps the most important consideration on this list. Bad communication will lead to mishaps one way or the other, and that can serve as a deeply frustrating problem that goes from bad to worse.

For instance, it might be that your supplier is out of stock regarding a given item, but they can offer substitutes, know when they’ll have them back in inventory, or can refer you to another supplier they use to help you get access. In some cases, simply calling ahead of time to let you know that your regular monthly order isn’t going to be fulfilled due to supply constraints. Issues happen, and no business is safe from it.

That said, the more that this kind of communication can take place, the more you’ll feel on solid footing with suppliers. There are chefs working in major cities, notoriously picky auteurs, who will not budge from using a singular supplier for a given ingredient because they know they can trust them to be forthright and candid about any issues or obstacles in the road. They would rather change an entire dish on the menu for a weekend than break that kind of relationship.

It could be that your business benefits from this kind of thinking, too.

Adapting To You As A Business

Ultimately, suppliers are here to sell us their goods, and that’s the main purpose for cultivating this relationship. Yet doing so successfully, and for some time, will require that they know your preferences. This doesn’t mean they have to go all out, such as delivering in a certain way just for you, or valuing you over other clients.

But remembering your regular order forms? Knowing your customer account number for seamless ordering? Offering advice should the regular protocol change? All of this can be a worthwhile means of cultivating the best relationship with our suppliers, and thanks to this effort, you’ll notice the benefit of their effort. That could be a golden value yo wish to keep in mind.

Offering Advice & Buying Guides

We tend to assume that suppliers know everything about the product they’re selling or servicing their providing. This means that offering potential buying advice can be key for us to have a good experience.

For instance, it might be that our managed IT service wishes to onboard us, but knows that as a small business, we might not need to be upsold to their high-premium tier. A company that can provide you that candid honesty while navigating their products or services is a sign of a business you need to keep around.

With this advice, you’re certain to know how to look for a reliable supplier, and how to curate that relationship once you have.

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David
David is a 28-year-old struggling artist who enjoys planking, upcycling and binge-watching boxed sets.