By Debbie Nicholson, Think-to-INK!
Before visiting a Wide-Format Printing client, I asked the production manager to schedule back-to-back (on-premise) appointments with their top three rigid and flexible substrate suppliers. I wanted to spend 40 minutes “interviewing” each supplier. (And, if the suppliers passed each other in the hallway -- that was okay with me!)
My Wide-Format discussion topics during the supplier “Interview” process
- Have you, within the last year, conducted a “Customer Review” with us
- Do we have your most recent Price List(s)
- Are you knowledgeable about our production capabilities
- Do you know the types of projects we complete for our customers
- When was the last time you introduced us to “new” materials & processes
- Would you organize a lunch/learn product educational series for our staff
- Can you supply us with small samples of your rigid and flexible substrates
- What is your procedure for rush orders & deliveries
- Do you provide samples for in-house testing (free of charge)
- What is the complete list of your ready available rigid and flexible substrates
- Have you incurred a tariff increase -- if so, how does that affect us
- Who are your “Supplier Partners”
- Do you extend Consignment for high-volume usage
- Will you consider “Early Pay Discounts” if paid – say…Net 10
- Is it common for you to “replace” a specified Brand product with a house sheet (and keep it a secret)?
- Let’s talk about a “Price Increase Agreement.”
One discussion topic I didn’t mention above – (I thought it deserved a shout-out here)…
- “How has business been lately?”
Suppliers’ Unanimous Response: Awesome! -- Wide-Format is our Largest Growing Market!!!
We can’t demand suppliers to know what is expected – if we don’t tell them!
Working closely and openly with suppliers allows us to experience a deeper consultative relationship. We desperately need knowledgeable suppliers who are “motivated” to inform us of the best use of materials and new materials coming to market. Leveraging suppliers can be a valuable extension to any Company.
When the meetings were over, each supplier representative thanked us for the time spent and the quality of the shared information. Again, I witnessed a more profound commitment than I experienced when the meetings began.
So, is your supplier an Order Taker; or an Order Maker