By Sid Chadwick, Chadwick Consulting, Inc.
“You don’t really know which suppliers to use, going forward….until something goes wrong”……………………………...Experienced Graphic Designer
Are we reduced to competing on “Price”--- if we (and our industry),,, are seen as “commodity suppliers”….?
If we don’t know much about our customer(s) --- other than specifications of their projects…..the answer… may be…. “YES!”
One of my favorite tests is to review what a company’s Quote Letters look like, what they contain re. information about what the Buyer wants --- and doesn’t want – beyond specification…. and price.
Too many Quotes --- show nothing other than specs, and price, when there’s an inventory of issues our Buyer wants --- that go far beyond Specifications --- that we never learned….and/or…didn’t know how to integrate into our Quote Letter.
Most organizations today have what I’ll call a “Customer Profile” software --- for capturing important information about each customer organization. Yet, most of the information in that software space that gets recorded --- seems to deal with basic contact information, such as (a) who to call, (b) what number(s) to call, (c) who and where to send an invoice, and (d) who to call for an invoice --- that’s not been paid.
Here are a few issues that… if used in managing day-to-day communications ……could move you out of the Commodity Supplier ranks, asking:
- What are your department’s ”performance priorities” --- for this year (and even next year)..?
- What do you wish your suppliers would do, that they don’t do, or don’t do consistently?
- How do you wish “communications” from your supplier(s) would improve?
- Are there certain shipping companies you prefer we use…? (Don’t use…?)
- What “qualities” do you like most, from your preferred suppliers…?
- How do you define “Excellent Service” --- from your best suppliers…?
- How do you define “Excellent Quality” --- from your best suppliers….?
- When is the best time for me to follow-up, and how do you prefer I follow-up (e.g., with your Assistant, by email, by phone)…?
- Without telling me who, would you describe for me what caused you to last --- change your suppliers…?”
- If treated as “confidential information”, would you want me to have your personal contact information, for us to use if an important question develops over a weekend, holiday, or at night….?
In our fast-paced world, we seem to invest too little time, learning what’s expected.
The proper purchasing of print is not easy…With performance expectations rising, Buyers lose their jobs, when projects go wrong, not as expected…..
In previous decades, the purchase of print was compared to “Health Care”…You can’t really test what to expect from a supplier, until it may be too late…. My observation is, little has changed.
At an early morning breakfast, a very smart Graphic Designer said,
“I don’t know know if I can use a supplier, long term --- until something goes wrong…How that supplier acts at that critical moment in time….tells me almost everything I need to know….going forward….I need a supplier who always has my back….that I can count on……”
“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight --- it’s the size of the fight in the dog,”…………..Dwight D. Eisenhower