Vendor relationships are some of the most important you’ll have in business. Choosing a supplier can be an overwhelming process at times. Before you start your search, consider these important criteria.
First and Foremost, Know Your Needs
Before you begin the vendor selection process, you must understand your needs. Take the time to write down your needs in detail.
Your vendor should take the time to get a true understanding of your business and it’s unique needs. This requires frequent visits and communication, especially at first. Make sure you choose a vendor who believes in the importance of this.
Cost is obviously a significant factor when it comes to selecting a compatible supplier. Determine the maximum amount your comfortable spending on the project. In your discussions with potential vendors, be clear firm about your budget. The right vendor will be straightforward and upfront about if they can work within that budget.
Knowledge & Know-How
Select a supplier who has a proven record for success. You’ll be relying on them to provide you with the best service, advice and expertise. Your vendor should be confident in their skill level and industry knowledge, and exude professionalism.
The length of time you’ll be working together is a huge factor in vendor selection. If the relationship will be a short one, simply due to the nature of the need, then the process will be much simpler. However, the goal of most vendor relationships is to be able to work together long-term. Switching suppliers is costly and time consuming. Take your time choosing a vendor you feel you can stick with through the years. Also, consider a vendor that can still meet your needs as your business grows.
This is critical in your relationship with vendors. Honesty, integrity and trust are the cornerstone of a successful, mutually beneficial relationship. Choose a vendor who is as open as possible and don’t be afraid to ask them a lot of questions. They should be prepared (and happy) to answer all of them.
One last note -you’ll want to choose a vendor with a similar mentality for business as yours. They should share a similar outlook on customer service, ethics and communication. Most importantly, take your time, do your research, and ask for referrals from colleagues you trust.