You are only as good as your vendors. When was the last time you did a thorough evaluation of them? If your vendors are not up-to-par it reflects on your company, and even worse-- on you! According to ISO 9001, you should evaluate your vendors on a yearly basis (at minimum) to make sure that you are receiving the best possible products and services. Putting together a formal evaluation is important to evenly evaluate your vendors across the board.
There's no denying it; we like options. Regardless of how your relationships are with your vendors, there may be some better ones out there. Reach out to new vendors, survey all of the options to see if there is a better fit out there. Why works with a "good" vendor when you could work with a great one?
When evaluating your current or new vendors there are 5 key factors to keep in mind:
When looking at vendors it should go beyond just the quality of their products and services. The systems and controls that a company uses will reflect how their quality trends. Check to see if the vendor has quality certifications such as ISO 9001 (continual improvement of quality) or practices LEAN manufacturing (systematic method for waste minimization). Does the vendor have a warranty or 100% satisfaction guarantee available? If a vendor does not stand behind their products and services than neither should you.
2. Lead Time/Delivery
Getting product out to your customers is priority number one. If a vendor that is late on their delivery than it reflects poorly on your company. Reach out to multiple vendors to compare turn-around times, you may be surprised at what you find. Lead time can be influenced by the type of machines and products that a company uses, so be sure to ask them. For example, most CNC Swiss machines can run with minimum supervision. Their ability to manufacture 24/7 can drastically cut down your turn-around time.
Getting your product to turn around quickly is great, but not when it is damaged, lost or over-priced. Evaluate the different shipping options available. Is it cheaper to use a 3rd party for shipping or will the vendor you work with personally deliver it to you? How is your product being packaged? Can you package more product together? Is the packing material keeping your product in the best condition possible?
When evaluating vendor pricing have you broken down the different components that form it? Once you do this you can make an educated decision on whether or not pricing is accurate. Most vendors will work with you to improve the pricing but in order to make sure you are getting the best possible price you need to have all of the information. The more you know, the more control you have.
Even after you have seen and understand the breakdown of your vendor pricing there is more that can be done to lower costs. If your budget does not line-up with their pricing have a discussion with the vendor. Most vendors will work with you to see what costs you can cut or how a process can be changed to meet your needs.
Do your vendors have the capacity to hold a product for you? If so, for how long? The ability to hold stock can do more than just save you space, orders can be produced ahead of time and stored on-site in anticipation of product that needs to be expedited.
If you were to increase your products lines could your vendors handle it? Ask vendors what kind/how many machines they have. How many shifts do they run and what are their hours?Understanding the capabilities of your vendors will allow you to anticipate how you will handle growth within your own company. Be prepared so you do not experience growing pains when the time comes.
5. Technical Knowledge
Beyond wanting to get the best product and pricing, you want to work with a company that knows what they are talking about. Vendors that have the capabilities to solve print, tolerance, machining and even shipping issues will make your life easier. Working with a self-reliant company means that less complications should arise and if they do that they can be solved without your involvement being necessary. A quality vendor with expert technical and engineering knowledge will reach out to your company to create, solve and suggest different ways to make your product more efficient. For example, the owner of Swiss Technologies of New England's owner, Shawn Gaskin, helps his customers by assisting in product launches free of charge. Shawn is committed to his customers and believes that the difference between a good and a great vendor is the one that educates and works with their customer.
To find out more information on the right vendor for your company, call Swiss Technologies of New England at (508) 695-8949.