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How to Choose the Best Supplier for Your Business

| Topic:

Business Advice

A recent article published on bnet.com examined the four main considerations all business owners should take into account when choosing a potential supplier. The author named quality, service and alignment – not just price – as the most critical factors to think about.

As landscape contractors, our reputation and profits depend on our suppliers, so it is important that we weigh the implications and repercussions of partnering with certain providers and manufacturers. In this post we are going to take a deeper look at these “considerations” to see how they apply to landscape contractors.

Price

Price is typically the first thing we consider when choosing to partner with a supplier. But as the author notes, there is certainly some risk involved if your supplier is always cutting you a cheaper deal.

Let’s examine this issue further: First of all, there’s the obvious point that a cheaper price often means a cheaper product or service, which will end up costing your company more money in the long run. In general, cheaper products don’t last as long, require more maintenance costs, and increase problems we have with our customers. But aside from the obvious, there’s another fact to keep in mind – a supplier needs to benefit from your business in order to stay in business. If your supplier continues to provide his products or services to you at a cheap price, and he is unable to make a profit on your business, then you’re both doing yourselves a disservice – after all, if your supplier goes under, you’re at a loss.

Before you even consider a supplier and a price, you need to understand and be fully aware of your demands – and the impact of all long term costs.  You can buy cheap equipment, for example. Your monthly payments might be more affordable than some of the premium brands. But when you examine the operating costs, the fuel economy, and the increased downtime (and lost productivity!) due to servicing issues and breakdown, you’ll likely be trading lower monthly payments for higher operating costs and more headaches! 

And that brings us to our next considerations…

Quality and Service

Although the quality of a product is definitely a ‘make or break’ deciding factor, it is not the only consideration to take into account. As the author suggests, the end result of the product – the packaging, labeling, delivery and customer service – is also an important consideration. Landscape contractors are on tight deadlines, you need to be organized and on schedule with your projects. Incorrect orders, late deliveries, poor product quality, and disorganized operations will affect your profits!  Your crew’s productivity drops and someone in your company has to spend time putting out the fires and making adjustments. All these problems reflect poorly on your company – even if they’re not your fault.  Your customers don’t care about your supplier problems – those are your problems. Therefore, the quality of the service and the successful follow through of your supplier should weigh in on your decision to use their business.

Alignment

It is best to align your business with suppliers that understand the industry and understand your customer. Both you and your supplier should be on a team because both of you are reliant on the same customer. It is in both of your interests to collaborate and come up with ways to grow profits together. As the author notes, your supplier should want “insight” into your business – they should want to know how you sell their product, what’s important to you and your customers and what your business values and practices are.  Many suppliers now are taking an active role helping their customers build better businesses – it’s good for both of you. Choose suppliers that understand the industry, understand your business, and who understand that your growth and prosperity is good for their business. Suppliers that are involved in your industry and hosting/sponsoring training, education sessions, workshops etc. are the kind of suppliers you need to build your business around.  

Landscape Management Network is a collection of systems, tools, and training to help great contractors build and manage great businesses. Visit the LMN website.

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