Who to partner with as your electrical containment supplier? This question should not be rushed into, it is important that you find someone that you can trust. Choosing a new supplier is a very important decision your business will make, especially as keeping ahead of the competition in an ever price-driven market, can be challenging.
A good working relationship can lead to an increase in sales and reliable service. A bad partnership can lead to disappointed customers, unfulfilled profits and worst-case scenario, a failed business.
If you want to find a new supplier or are currently researching potentials; make sure you take these six factors into account. It will help you find the supplier that is right for you and most importantly, your business.
1. Supplier costing
Cost is probably the most obvious, but very important factor to take into consideration when looking for new suppliers.
Of course, you’ll have a figure in mind as you’ll know which products you’re looking for, and how much you’re willing to pay. Even so, prices between suppliers can vary, so it’s important to shop around and see who offers the best deal. For instance, some suppliers may offer discounts on bulk-buying; or others may offset higher costs with better-quality products.
You should weigh up all of the options when it comes to costs, before deciding which supplier is best in that respect.
2. Quality (service and product)
There’s often a correlation between cost and quality: the more expensive the product, the better the quality. Regardless of price, there is a predetermined, agreed level of quality, and you want to be sure that your expectations are met.
After all, the last thing you want to do is market your products as high-end, when your supplier sends you something completely different.
Quality doesn’t just refer to the physical product itself, but its associated aspects too. Are the products packaged adequately, protecting them in transit? Are they labelled correctly? Speak with potential suppliers to ensure that you’re fully aware of what they will offer you. You don’t want to agree on a contract and then be disappointed with under spec products or service.
3. Reliability and previous experience
It’s important to remember that when choosing a supplier, you’re fundamentally entering into a longstanding relationship with them. It’s similar to hiring a new recruit – you’ll want to see references.
Don’t be afraid to ask for them: it makes sense that you would want to hear from businesses that have worked with specific suppliers in the past. They can give you an honest account of what the partnership was like, and list any good or bad points.
If you’re deciding between two suppliers, references can make all the difference when deciding who to choose.
Your chosen supplier will directly reflect upon your business. If they send over a batch of products two weeks late, the customer who ordered that product will blame you, not your supplier.
4. Shared values
Expectations are only met when they are clear on both sides. A good supplier relationship is built on shared values, goals and attitudes. Speak with suppliers directly to find out how they like to work with other contractors. If you want constant communication but they prefer to “get on with it”, then realistically, that’s not going to work.
When speaking with suppliers, whilst you’ll have questions to ask them; it’s likely they’ll have equally as many questions for you. Use this time to gauge whether your culture and expectations are similar, as you should get a good idea of whether or not the relationship will work.
When choosing a supplier, location is a big factor to consider. If you’re a local business that has built your brand on expertise in your area, then you’ll want to focus on finding a supplier who is located nearby or can service the area you work in, also check they share your values.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to expand internationally, then you may wish to recruit a supplier that’s further afield. For example, if you’re a UK business looking to start operations in France, it makes sense to partner with a French-based supplier; as they will be clued up on business rules and regulations, and can ship products easier.
6. Financial security
Just as much as suppliers need to do a credit check on you, it is wise to do your own homework on the financial stability of your suppliers.
Be cautious with things like big upfront deposits and be aware of their return/refund policy and any other financial rules they have in place.
It’s essential to build long-term relationships with suppliers who you know are going to be available when you need them.
So where do you go from here?
Well as we all know the market is jammed full with major wholesalers, cheap under-specified importers, and independent or family-run containment suppliers. So please make sure you do your due diligence ensuring quality at every step.
We’ve seen too many failed products and late deliveries costing MEP contractors thousands of pounds every day, so be sure you select the right company to meet your everyday needs.