We've put together this special edition of our newsletter specifically for people in the franchising industry. Going forward, we will feature articles that will be of interest to the specific needs of franchising professionals.
Qualifying Your Vendors
More than most industries, franchising relies heavily on its suppliers and vendors. Who provides your supplies and services can dramatically affect your production, sales, and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Yet, oddly enough, there is very little available in the way of literature to qualify a vendor.
With that in mind, we have put together a short list of areas that you might want to consider when looking to qualify a vendor. At 123-Awards.com we have been on the receiving end of the vendor qualification process for a number of clients, including Federal and State government offices, as well as companies in the private sector.
Know What You Need
While it may sound glib, in reality this is extremely important. If you don't know exactly what it is you are looking for in relation to the supplier, it is going to make the entire process all that more time-consuming and may even negatively affect the outcome. Take some time to gather information and be ready to ask specific questions. While a good supplier should be willing to help you educate yourself about their product or service, the fact is the more you know before you look, the more you will find.
Sometimes it seems like it is all about the process. Find out how they go about providing you with their goods or services. What is the state of the technology that they bring to bear? How do you initiate an order from your end? How do you track that order? What can cause an interruption in the process and how can it be avoided at the outset? What happens when there is an error in the order? Do they have a published quality assurance process that effectively addresses flaws in their system? Nothing is more reassuring than to know that the people you are dealing with know what they are doing, and nowhere does it show more than in their understanding of their own inner processes. And last but not least, how do their processes fit with yours? Look for areas where the two processes might come into conflict and head it off right up front.
Ask for references and then check the references. If at all possible, get references from businesses similar to your own. Call the references and have a nice chat about their experiences with the vendor. Don't be afraid to ask for specifics. If there is a particular area of expertise that you are worried about, ask specifics about their experiences.
Few things are more frustrating than not being able to reach someone who can answer your question(s). Especially when there is a crisis. Do they supply you with at least two different people to contact or are you tossed into the customer service pool? Can they be reached easily? What happens when you pick up the phone to call – does someone answer the phone or are you left to the mercy of their phone system? How quickly do they return your emails? What is their preferred communication approach? How do they contact you and why do they contact you? Do they keep you up-to-date on changes in processes or new products? Customer service is king. If you've got a vendor who takes their customer service seriously, then you've got a good partner.
It may seem like a given, but make sure that the vendor actually has the resources to supply you consistently, constantly and in a timely manner. Where do they source their products from? How reliable are those sources? Nothing can be worse than the helpless feeling you get when suddenly you are at the mercy of someone over whom that you have no control. Ask for reassurances. Demand the knowledge you need to make a good decision. If they can't rely on their sources, then you can't rely on them.
While the lowest price is a good place to start, make sure you know what you get for your money. Often you get what you pay for and sometimes it's better to pay a little more to get a lot more in return. Seek out and reveal any “hidden costs” you can find. Look for a guarantee. Look at their return policies. If their product or service is good, they should be willing to stand behind it. Take into consideration any value-added features as a positive and any hidden costs as a negative. Do the math and you will know the value.
Find out what policies they have in affect. Security policies can be very revealing. How do they protect their systems and physical structures and production facilities? Dealing with a vendor that doesn't know how to protect their data and other resources can come back to bite you. Also, look at their hiring policies. Sometimes overlooked, this can be important if your company has specific requirements for hiring, especially if a government office is involved. Not only do you want to know that the vendor is screening their employees, you also may need to know if, as a government vendor yourself, the vendor you hire is considered a subcontractor and therefore must meet government-mandated hiring practices!
This is especially important if they are in the food processing business. Ask them to produce copies of their certifications. Don't just take their word for it. Contact the certifying body and confirm they are up to standards.
Watch everything carefully. Track both success and failure. Make the time to measure how well things are working. Take the time to regularly evaluate your measurements. Good decisions are made using good data. It can be reassuring to know things are going well, while at the same time you can head off disaster when things might be going poorly.
Share a Good Thing
Now that you've found a good vendor, don't hesitate to let people know. This can take place on a number of levels and can have a number of good spin offs attached to it. For instance, let people within your company know the vendor is qualified and why they are qualified. Perhaps you have a PR department that can contact the vendor's PR department and a news release can be used to bring a bit of good publicity to both. If you are not part of top management in your company, let the head office know what you have found. This will be good for not only your business, but the vendor's business as well. You want them to succeed so that they can continue to be a healthy supplier.
Forward to a Friend or Colleague
By Rod Gilchrist
If you have any questions or comments concerning this article we welcome your opinions. Please email them to newsletter@123-Awards.com. We also welcome any suggestions for story ideas. To unsubscribe to this newsletter please use the Manage Your Subscription link at the bottom of the page.
79% of people who leave their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason.
-- Society for Human Resource Management Study
The average cost of replacing an employee is 150% of their annual compensation.
-- Insight, a CPA Magazine
The World Franchising Network and the National Minority Franchising Initiative have relied solely upon 123-Awards for all of our recognition awards over the past several years. All orders are placed via email and, without exception, deliveries have been prompt, flawless and very price competitive. All individual plaques were individually wrapped, boxed and properly identified, thereby minimizing potential handling problems on the shipping end. We would give 123-Awards a 10 on performance and will continue to use them for all our award needs.
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World Franchising Network
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|Looking for a little help on your recognition program? Or maybe you'd like some advice on what kind of product will best work for you. You can call us toll free at 888.805.7253 (weekdays 7a.m. - 4:30 Pacific) or via email at sales@123-Awards.com. We will be happy to help with whatever we can.