Is Your Supplier an Order Taker or an Order Maker?

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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!)

Suppliers imageMy 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!!!

Advice Help tips Support guidance signWe 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



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