For any small business, suppliers are arguably the most important factor in success. Suppliers enable you to give your customers what they want, and the better your suppliers are, the higher quality your products and services are. Some businesses stay with the same suppliers for decades and are able to build up a strong and faithful relationship.
However, there will always be times when searching for new suppliers will be necessary. Perhaps your suppliers abruptly go out of business or your business grows so much that your suppliers can no longer meet your demands. How do you find a new supplier that you can rely on?
Be a Detective
You have to be sure about the suppliers you choose to work with and that means getting as much information as possible. Often, the best place to find suppliers is to look at your competitors. However, if your competitors are smart, they won’t be advertising what suppliers they’re working with. So, you have two choices: you can either go undercover and place an order with your competitor in the hopes of getting a glimpse of some information, or you can hire a private investigator to get the information that isn’t public knowledge.
Get in Touch
Once you have a list of potential suppliers, it’s okay to ask questions. You’re in a position of power right now, and each supplier is going to want your business. So, make sure they’re willing to impress. Contact each supplier and ask them for a list of similar businesses they currently work with. If the businesses are known to you, it will be easier to tell if the relationship between business and supplier runs smoothly. It’s important to find out what they’re reputation is like, so it could be a good idea to contact businesses they work with that aren’t your competitors.
Although attending events throughout the year can take up valuable time, it’s certainly worth it when you’re on the lookout for a new supplier. Trade shows are often full to the brim with suppliers and they want you on their books! So, take advantage of the demonstrations and get a feel for what each supplier is like. You’ll need to find a balance between what a supplier can offer you and how well the supplier builds relationships with businesses.
Research, Research, Research
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t say yes to the first supplier you come across. But, suppliers want your business, and some have a great way of dazzling potential clients to start off with but not putting much effort into the relationship in the long run. Find out as much about your supplier as you can before agreeing to a long-term relationship. If you can’t get as much information as you would like, try asking your supplier for a trial run. Most suppliers won’t like to do trial runs but may agree if you’re likely to give your business to a competitor instead.
Finding potential new suppliers could be easy, but choosing the one you work with should be something you take your time with.