If the thought of finding a new supplier is enough to make your palms sweat and your heart palpitate, this week’s post is right up your alley. While it certainly isn’t a task that people love to do, it shouldn’t be something that you are afraid to do.
There are many reasons why you could be looking for a reliable gasket material manufacturer. We put together a short list of ways to start your search to help ensure you find someone that could soon fall into the “reliable” category for you.
Getting to Know You…
While this list is certainly not exhaustive, if you have a pretty good feeling about someone after looking at all of these areas, they are probably someone worth exploring further.
1. Can they tell you what they do?
It sounds like a dumb question, but how many times have you talked to someone (in any part of your life) that did a little bit of everything and was up for any challenge? While it could be attributed to great customer service, when you’re talking about gasket materials, you want someone that knows what they do, and has confidence that they do it well.
2. Can you discuss your market and your pain points with them?
If your conversation turns out to be a complete tutorial about your market and why your pain points exist, you may want to proceed with caution. There is definitely a difference between someone that asks a few questions to better understand something, and someone that is clearly hearing everything you are saying for the first time.
3. Ask them about their quality system – what do they say?
Any supplier worth their salt should have a certified quality management system in place. If you’re talking to someone that doesn’t, or downplays the importance of having one, beware. Companies that aren’t disciplined enough to have their own procedures (and adhere to them) will never be able to consistently meet the needs of their customers.
4. How do they perform – on-time delivery and quality?
Speaking of quality, it never hurts to throw out a question regarding on-time delivery percentages and the number of quality issues observed. If a company has a certified quality management system, they are most likely tracking these KPIs and should be able to give you an idea of what you could expect as a customer.
5. Do they provide samples, and is there a cost?
This seems like a question with an obvious answer, but you never know. If you can’t get sample material to see, feel, cut and maybe even test, that should raise some red flags. While test data is beneficial to review, it doesn’t compare to the actual product. Also be sure to confirm if there is a cost associated with the sample. Most samples generally are complimentary.
6. Are they accessible?
When you call, does a person answer, or do you get lost in an endless loop of automation? Are your phone calls and emails returned in a timely manner, or is your contact always out of the office? Can they actually help you when you call, or do you hang up without your questions truly answered?
7. What do others say?
The gasket and gasket material business isn’t a very large market segment. If you’ve never heard about the company that you are investigating, ask around. There is a very good chance someone you know knows something about the company you are considering.
8. Do they have a good online presence?
Can you Google the company and find something? These days, you expect companies to have a website that is easy to navigate and provides you with information. With the prevalence of inbound marketing tactics, most visitors have also come to expect downloadable content. We’re not saying that only good companies have a good online presence, but maintaining an online presence is a lot of work. You know that companies that have one, generally have put time and effort into it, and a lot of times, it is a direct reflection on their commitment to both their products and company.
Obviously, simply because you feel good about these 8 things doesn’t mean that you automatically have a new supplier. There are definitely other factors that are a part of your vendor qualification process, but if a potential supplier doesn’t meet some (or most) of the minimum criteria, there probably isn’t much point in going further with them.
What other things are important to you as you evaluate potential suppliers?