Finding a good supplier or manufacturer is a make-or-break issue for any business. The quality of your supplies is reflected in the opinions of your customers, and the reputation of your business. Shopping around for the right supplier will help your business save money and distribute high quality products. There are different things to keep in mind and look for when you are choosing suppliers.
A Note about Money
Affordability is usually one of the first things most businesses consider, but don’t let it be the only factor. Manufacturers are businesses, too, and often it will come down to a trade-off between quality and quantity. If the quality of your supplies affects the quality of your product, invest in the good stuff. The price you pay could be a determining factor it what types of material the manufacturer uses and how long the products will last.
Suppliers as a group haven’t exactly jumped onto the digital bandwagon, and many haven’t updated their sites since the 90s. Trade shows, magazines, and good old word-of-mouth hide more hidden gems than Google has access to. You can get a general idea of what you are looking for online, but you might not be able to see exactly what each company has to offer until you go see them and see the products that they have made in the past. You’ll also want to find out more about their manufacturing process, do they do cold heading to mold metal? Knowing more about the process can help you decide if this is the right supplier for you.
Be Careful about Distance
If you often need your supplies on short notice, buying local is usually the better option. If you want reliability and competitive pricing, though, large, multinational providers will probably give you the best deals. For the best of both worlds, find large providers with local offices. Also make sure that you keep your inventory up to date so you can place new orders in advance if you must get your product from further away.
An established history of reliability is your best option, for the most vital supplies. Late shipments can cost you more in sales revenue than the original order did. To find out the reputation of the supplier, be sure to get references and talk to current or past clients. They can often give you the best idea of this manufacturer’s reputation. You can also get a general idea by reading reviews online.
Look for Potential
Although older companies have a history of happy customers to boast their business, newer suppliers are more likely to embrace new, more efficient technologies. This would make a new supplier a good investment to make in the long run. Ideally, you’d be able to find a reliable supplier with a reputation for innovation. Failing that, try out a younger supplier for your less-vital supplies; if they end up a success, you’ll already have an in for future discounts.
Keep yourself Presentable
Finally, keep in mind that you present a risk to the supplier, too. Try to minimize that risk by getting your paperwork in order, and having your resale certificate and EIN number on-hand. You want to show the supplier that you’re a legitimate buyer with a good credit history. (Late payments are as bad for the supplier as late shipments are for you.)
Finding a good supplier is a lot of work, but it’s well worth it. Quality supplies are reasonable prices are one of the pillars of good business. With these guidelines in mind, you’re already well on your way to finding the perfect supplier.