Five steps to choosing the right supplier

So you’re paving your own path, building your own future so to speak. And you want to be 110% sure that, when it comes to your business, everything goes smoothly. One of the most important things to get right at the beginning is choosing suppliers who you can trust. With the right partners on your side, you’ll be able to deliver a quality service on time, at a competitive price, and you’ll be complying to safety standards as well. But with an overwhelming number of options, how do you go about finding the right supplier for you?

1. Where have all the good ones gone?

If you’re looking for manufacturers and wholesalers, it’s worth doing your research online. You can find out what they stand for as a business, and – more importantly – what other people are saying about them. Another tip is to show up to industry events and exhibitions, so you can get a genuine feel for the choice that’s out there, meet individual suppliers, and get to know more about their products and services in person.

2. Price, payment and prizes.

If your business is a new one, you’ll be keen to get yourself a good deal to keep your costs down. That means you’ll want to look into the more competitively priced suppliers, and try and negotiate up front to ensure you’re starting as you mean to go on.

It’s also great idea to find out about which suppliers run trade reward programs. This is an easy way to get a good deal at your end and show your loyalty to the supplier. A win all round!

3. Got the quality chat?

Don’t risk losing business for a cheaper supplier who provides average service and product quality. Generally, larger suppliers have enough resources and systems in place to deliver good service even if things go wrong, so although they may be a slightly more expensive option, it may be worth paying that little extra. At the same time, you may find you develop better working relationships with a smaller supplier. They may also respond better to requests that are out of the ordinary - like rushed orders or holding stock. Just make sure they’re able to cope if things go a bit pear-shaped.

4. It’s all about the experience.

What kind of service are you getting? It’s a good idea to look for experienced suppliers who’ve been in the game a while. If you’re unsure, ask around your networks and check the supplier’s credit history to see if they’re financially stable. It’s worth chatting to other businesses who have used that supplier for the same services to get a reference, to see if there are any red flags or to hear about exceptionally good service. Suppliers who don’t openly give references or who don’t have many clients may be less trust worthy than those who have people singing their praises.

5. So, how far away are you?

Long distance relationships with suppliers may not be the best idea going forward. You’ll want a supplier who can turn things around when you need them in a hurry, and not slap you with big freight costs and long delivery times. Look into the cost versus convenience when it comes to how close your supplier is to you - generally local is an easier option.