Small businesses need to carefully manage their cash flow. Often times, the smallest change can have the largest impact, especially when it comes to vendors. How you choose and manage your providers and vendors plays a key role in the success of your business. Your company can easily get stuck in a rut by doing business with the same companies without reviewing what new options might be available. It can also take an emotional turn; let’s face it, it’s hard to say “good bye.” Here are some very productive steps to take when making the decision to explore your options:
Select the Right Provider for the Right Reasons. People do business with people they know, right? That’s a good place to start, but don’t limit yourself. Carefully analyze your needs, make a list of prospective vendors and ask for bids. After all that is accomplished, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Ask for references, and follow up to make sure your choice isn’t too good to be true. Which leads me to another important tip…?
All That Glitters Isn’t Gold. Don’t get wrapped up in the initial barrage of attention and adulation lavished upon you by a potential provider or supplier. Pulling out all the stops to seal-the-deal is likely, making it even more important to ask the right questions. Commitment after the sale will be the biggest boost to your business, so be wary of restrictive contracts.
Require Accountability. You’ve made an educated decision and signed on the dotted line. Now what? With a new supplier, provider or vendor, it’s imperative to carefully monitor every step initially. Even though you may have the specifics on paper, make sure everyone involved is aware of the critical requirements necessary to keep your business running like a well-oiled machine. Make no assumptions, and be prepared for a few bumps in the road at the outset.
Keep the Conversation Flowing. The squeakiest wheel gets the most attention, but don’t forget about the SBD: Silent But Deadly. No news is not always good news. A good, customer focused supplier or provider is adept at identifying a client’s needs, but he’s NOT a mind reader. An established and active line of communication avoids mistakes and identifies issues before they become problems.
Wrap It Up in A Neat Package. “Super Stores” are successful for many reasons, with the most revered being convenience and savings. Why not use those same principles when looking at providers or suppliers for your small business? Think of the additional savings you may benefit from by consolidating services into one provider. Even in the off-chance that packaging services may lead to a slight increase in cost, the time it saves may be worth the money
What’s the bottom line? It’s time well-invested to do your homework.