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Choosing Your Supplier – Selection Criteria

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In the previous Independence newspaper issue, I discussed businesses within fragmented industries. These businesses are usually too small individually, and too independent to consolidate their buying power. For these reasons, fragmented industries have limited influence over supplies when requesting services or supplies. The following checklist can help in qualifying a vendor appropriate to achieving your goals:

Overall Responsiveness

How responsive is the supplier early in the selection and review process? Are they helpful and willing to answer questions?

Capability

Does the supplier have all the resources required in-house to produce your job? Will any special materials need to be sourced by the manufacturer?{{more}}

Development

Is the supplier willing to work with you to develop a prototype? What are the associated costs? Do they include revisions and alterations? How far is the supplier willing to go to help you achieve your goals?

Quality

Is the quality of the finished goods they have produced for others consistent with the expectations you have for your product? How is it quality controlled?

Consistency of Manufacture

How will consistency from run to run be addressed? Will they assure color matches?

Responsibility

Will the manufacturer work with any subcontractors? How will your supplier monitor their quality and performance? Who within the organization will be responsible for monitoring and ensuring delivery? Will it always be the same person?

Price

What are the costs of the finished goods from door to door? Will the manufacturer incur any up-front expenses in the fabrication of a piece, part or whole product? What is the minimum first-time order you can place? What is the minimum required for a fill-in order? Do any volume discounts apply?

Ownership

If a supplier works with you to develop something you would consider to be unique to your product, what assurances are they willing to provide that they won’t sell it to someone else?

Terms

Is the manufacturer willing to extend payment terms that are agreeable to you?

Domestic/Overseas

Will the materials be sourced domestically or overseas? How will this affect availability and timing?

Location

Is it important that the supplier or manufacturer be located in close proximity to your business for quality audits, etc.?

Environmental Considerations

What materials, chemicals and substrates are used in the manufacturing process? Are they harmful to the environment? How is waste disposed of?

Employee Base

Are the employees part-time? Full-time? Freelance? Skilled? Unskilled?

Turnaround

What is the turnaround time for an initial order? What is the turnaround time for future orders?

Flexibility of Supplier

How willing is the supplier to work with your terms (deliveries, small minimums, changes/alterations)?

Attention to Detail

What system is in place to ensure that materials are assembled the way you have specified?

On-Site Resources

Does the supplier have the resources needed on-site? How will they be obtained? Will quality be ensured?

Willingness to Work With You

Will the supplier take an active role in ensuring your success? Does the supplier understand what you are trying to do?

Working Environment

Is the environment clean? Does it appear to be safe?

Reputation

What do other customers think of the supplier? Ask for the names of references and call them.

Roland Nicholas is the Product Development Specialist of Brand Coral, LLC, a brand management consultancy registered in Atlanta, Georgia USA. Vincentian-born, Roland has over11 years of education and experience in brand communications, product engineering and production efficiency. Roland is currently on assignment in Barbados. Inquiries are welcomed at www.brandcoral.com.

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