Anyone who starts a business knows just how stressful and intimidating it can be. There are so many factors to consider—the business plan, the capital, the target market, the marketing strategy, and so many others. But a big part of business planning that people often forget is finding the best suppliers and partners.
This is a crucial part of ensuring your business’s success because, without reputable and reliable suppliers, your business will struggle to provide your customers with high-quality but properly-priced goods and services that will meet their needs and expectations. Here are some key tips and pointers for finding the best suppliers for your business.
Don’t lower your standards or your criteria.
Looking for suppliers is much like looking for a romantic partner; you need to have a list of non-negotiable characteristics (set criteria you can’t do without) and negotiable qualities (list of flexible preferences that may not be necessary). Here are some examples of these two kinds of criteria:
- Good lead time, or the duration of waiting between putting your order in place and receiving the goods on your doorstep
- Dropshipping features, or the supplier’s ability to deliver the goods directly to your consumers and clients
- Quality control and assurance, or the steps that the supplier takes to ensure the consistent quality of the goods
- Return policy and protocol, and whether the supplier is fair in terms of allowing customers to return faulty or less than stellar products
- Communication abilities, or how suppliers deal with conflict or language barriers
- Commitment to excellence, or a service that has an established reputation of providing exceptional customer service, especially if it’s a parcel or courier service
- Liking the organization’s owners because while a friendly relationship is important, it’s not always vital to ensuring a good working relationship. You can have a successful business relationship with people you’re simply civil or professional with.
You have to remember that suppliers across different industries will also have different operations and processes, so you might not be able to find suppliers that tick all of your boxes. The key part is knowing what qualities are most important to you and what’s expendable so you can narrow down your list of people to partner with.
Put out a call for bids.
Once you have narrowed down your list of wholesalers, delivery services, and other suppliers you potentially want to partner with, you can put out a call for bids. You can send out requests for quotations and proposals, and you will need to specify your business’s detailed needs, including the materials, products, services, delivery dates, the number of items, and the standards you’re looking for.
Keep your communication lines open at all times during this process. Make sure you’re constantly available to answer questions and that you also have your own list of pertinent questions to ask as well. Find information on how the suppliers source their materials and engage in potentially unethical, problematic, or risky practices. Doing so will ensure that you will work with only ethical and reputable vendors whose supply chains have little to no chances of breaking down eventually.
Evaluate the bids.
The best way to evaluate the bid submissions is by pitting their pros and cons against each other. Which suppliers can meet your standards and requirements without exorbitant fees? Another factor that you need to pay close attention to is the suppliers’ pricing because any amount you give them will be a cut from your own profit margin.
You can also ensure legitimacy by asking to take a gander at their product samples and other documents like ISO compliance. This is because if you end up partnering with them, you might be considered complicit if it turns out they’re dabbling in illegal practices. Once you’ve made your decision, don’t forget to go back and forth regarding the terms of your contract to ensure that everyone’s happy. Don’t hesitate to consult with a lawyer and do a three-month trial run if you’re still not 100 percent sure about your choice.
Monitoring their performance.
And lastly, make sure to stay on top of your supplier’s performance by keeping close tabs on their day-to-day performance. Check if they ship the goods late, if they send incomplete materials or packages, or if their products are substandard or don’t meet the agreed-upon terms. You can then use this information to help improve processes for both sides. Be honest with your supplier about where they need to step it up and what they’re doing well.
Choosing the right suppliers can make or break your startup, so don’t shortchange yourself and your standards. Believe that your company deserves the cream of the crop.
Meta title: A Guide to Finding the Best Suppliers for Your Busiiness
meta desc: Half of what determines a business’s success is its suppliers. Here are some key pointers for finding the best suppliers for your business.