Carefully selecting and managing vendors is an essential function of running any small business. The best practices are based on building trust and solid relationships. When choosing a supplier, think about how your business relationship will fare short-term and for the long haul.

Decisions, decisions

Why do owners choose one vendor over another?

Cost - Service and product costs are not the only concepts to consider. The cost to your bottom line, the cost of not trusting the vendor and the cost of partnering with a company with a bad reputation are all worth examining.

Capability - Vendor expertise is vitally important. Smart suppliers know the trends in their industry and can bring that knowledge to you. Vet suppliers who offer the latest, most advanced products and services, and have made the investment in well-trained employees.

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Communication - Vendors should communicate clearly, regularly and honestly – without being too aggressive. Expect transparency and excellent communication (good, bad or indifferent) on a consistent basis.

Character - Quantifying a company’s character lies within its reputation. What appears when you search online for a vendor is just as important as signing a contract. Hire suppliers with a solid history of positive reviews and business longevity. More importantly, look for vendors that have a track record of “doing the right thing.”

Gameplan guidelines

Define your objectives, milestones and expectations - Many growing businesses select vendors based on cost alone because every dollar counts. However, consider other aspects like reliability and owner availability when making your decision.

Do your research - Collect information on several vendors and narrow the vendor field by asking questions. Does their business have a professional website. Do their company values align with yours? Does a human answer the phone when you call?

Get referrals - Professional referrals can steer you away from trouble and direct you to companies with good local reputations.

Consider location - Stop by the vendor’s place of business. Shipping costs drop and face-to-face meetings are more convenient when vendors are local.

Establish good communication - Keep the lines of communication open and ensure that the contract, price and timeline work for both parties. You should always know exactly what you’re paying for.

Monitor performance - This is particularly important in the beginning stages of the relationship. Until the working relationship is well-established, monitor the vendor’s performance to make sure it upholds the terms of the contract.

Productive post-mortem

Ask these questions before hiring again

  • What did you like best about working with the vendor?
  • What made you select them in the first place?
  • How flexible was the vendor with regard to process or changes?
  • Did they communicate status and risks in a timely manner?
  • Were there any hiccups on the project or things to be aware of or manage closely?
  • Are there any individuals that worked on the project that you wouldn’t choose to work with in the future?
  • Did the vendor go above and beyond in any way?
  • Were there any unforeseen benefits in working with them?
  • Were there any hidden or surprise costs either before or after the project?
  • What are the vendor’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Would use you them again for a future project?

Choosing vendors is an important part of your business’s success. Vendors can turn into partners, and help small businesses grow into big businesses. If you haven’t already, make selecting reliable and stable vendors part of your overall growth plan. Your business will thank you for it!

As a ‘vendor’ ourselves, we take pride in exceeding expectations, and strive to go above and beyond for each client every day. To learn more about High Level Marketing’s digital marketing packages, contact us today!

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors…

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