Relationships with your suppliers may make or break your company

If you want to make it as a manufacturer, making your suppliers happy should be your first concern. That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t strive to maximize your benefits whenever possible. It’s crucial to keep suppliers informed of any changes in production levels. They need more reaction time when volume levels are rising. 

Suppliers may also have pre-stocked supplies for you based on your forecasts, previous orders, and purchasing power. Reducing your needs too much may put a strain on a supplier’s financial stability. They have too much stock and worry they won’t be able to sell it before it goes bad. Worse, the manufacturer may not accept the returned goods.

Thus, my intention is not to make you afraid, even if some situations I’ve described may do so. 

 Make timely payments to your suppliers a bare minimum. Most of the time, this will make their content. Utilize any of a variety of resources to foresee your needs, and then place orders only as they arise.

Seven suggestions for evaluating business partners, as presented by Inc.

Make use of Key Performance Indicators.

Sort a Wide Variety of Distributors and Retailers.

Come up with a Way to Judge It.

Find out who is in charge.

Be sure to keep the peace.

Determine whether and when a warning should be sent.

Get rid of the weak links.

Every one of these suggestions is spot-on. You have a plethora of options in your kitty to handle such matters. 

In other words, “Go Big or Go Home,” whatever strategy you choose to use, requires your entire participation. But I’d want to go a little more into this. The heart of your grading system is a concept that may or may not be obvious right now.

Think about it. I suggest that your company follows the conventional hierarchical structure. What I mean is that accountability flows down from the top. Each component must behave in accordance with the rules established by the corporate structure, which is how most businesses function in practice.

I want to provide a situation that you haven’t possibly thought about. Everyone in a manufacturing organization has a hand in managing supplier and vendor relationships and assigning ratings. Do the aforementioned seven guidelines still serve as necessary boundaries? Absolutely. The question then becomes, what role does each individual worker play?

The inbound goods are the responsibility of the receiving clerk. I was wondering how it got there. On a transportation company’s pallet? Whether it’s UPS or FedEx, get it there fast! Can you tell me whether the shipping containers are cumbersome and difficult to handle? Is there too much stuff in here? How often does a vendor cause problems for your receiving department? Is there adequate space in the staging area to temporarily store the incoming cargo while it is being processed? These supplies have arrived, and now my mind is racing.

It will undergo inbound quality control and then be sent to the warehouse for storage.

Can items be easily moved to the storage area? How often do things get returned because of broken packaging? Is there a percentage of rejected items that have evident physical damage? I’ll give you a nice one: How much will be rejected later because of non-functioning parameters that won’t be noticed for a while (e.g., electrical component damage due to static discharge)? When it comes to stowing the items, what specific conditions must be met?

Should we prepare kits for assembly line use? Can the material and/or packaging make this process simple? And once again, what unique facilities are needed to manage the substances? Have the right pieces been delivered to you?

By now, you must see that we have only discussed two (2) locations in the material handling process and that these locations have nothing to do with the vendor’s cost, delivery, or standard customer service (the three main parameters for most any supplier).

I won’t bore you with the details of the following several phases, but I believe you get the idea. When we take a step back, we see that communicating our needs to potential suppliers is an integral element of the “Grading System.” It’s possible that not all of our workers need to go to the supplier directly, but it’s certainly reasonable for us to have discussions between ourselves.

All of the requirements we make of our suppliers are based on a firm comprehension of the specifics of each procedure. This is the essence of excellent customer service. Not free swag like t-shirts, diaries, and pencils. Gaining their support will allow you to choose the best possible supplier. Invite them to meetings to discuss new initiatives and shifts in output. Talk about the logistics of product delivery, such as when to expect it and how. You should pay attention to what he or she has to say and ask questions to further your understanding.

The number of potentially dangerous vendor partnerships is shockingly high. The buyer demands more favorable terms from the agent than is first offered, including a lower price. These customers often mistakenly believe that cost is the most crucial consideration. Because of what I’ve already shown, this is obviously not the case. The salesperson or vendor may also serve as the conversation starter at times. Unreasonably long lead times due to excessively high minimums and too complex ordering methods. These rules are put in place to discourage returns by making the cost of sending an item back to the seller, plus any restocking costs, prohibitive for most customers.

Fire your account representative immediately if he or she is not cooperative. Get your account handled by a different staff member by asking for them. If it turns out that the supplier is at fault, you should switch to another one. If you’re looking for a vendor, supplier, or agent, don’t settle for anything less than the best.

In sum, assessing your vendor is an exercise in self-evaluation as a review of the vendor. Communicating the more nuanced requirements to your provider may lay the groundwork for long-lasting partnerships. The truth is that the provider cares about your success since it contributes to his or her own. All parties involved benefit.

A few words with our staff will give you confidence and pave the way for access to information that will assist you in making your company more productive.


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