free small business advice & information

Article Index
Specify What You Want
Supplier Selection
Supplier Relations
From Order to Delivery
Look at the Alternatives
Equipment Specifications
Office Supplies and Services


2. Supplier Selection

2.1 Suppliers should be easy to find, through:

2.2 Make up a shortlist and write to each supplier, explaining your exact requirements.

  • Ask suppliers to send you product details, price lists and other relevant information.
  • You can often obtain better terms by letting suppliers know that they are competing for your order.

2.3 Pick out suppliers you believe can offer the quality of product and service you need. Compare them in terms of:

  • Product suitability, reliability and sustainability.
  • Reputation, based on references.
  • Quality and flexibility of service.
  • Location and ease of communication.
  • Speed and frequency of delivery.
  • Price range and order size.

2.4 For long-term supply contracts, make the effort to visit those suppliers that seem to meet your quality standards. To assess how they are likely to perform, ask yourself:

  • Are they professional?
  • Do they have sufficient work?
  • How eager are they for your business?
  • Do they have the necessary equipment and space to cope with your order?
  • Do they appear to be financially stable?

2.5 Get quotes, including details like discounts and payment terms, to use in negotiations.

  • Ask how often prices will rise, what influences will cause them to rise, and how you will be notified.

2.6 Once you have narrowed the choice down to two or three suppliers, negotiate prices, discounts and levels of service.

  • For a healthy long-term relationship, do not negotiate too hard a price at the expense of quality.
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