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The Value of a Trustworthy Supplier

By Rick Huskey

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September 10, 2014

In today’s highly competitive market places there are many factors that determine whether a business willbe successful or fail.  Management and business gurus have filled book shelves and magazine racks with plenty of “how to success stories” and “why companies fail” scenarios.  These stories help businesses generate a mental model of how the game is supposed to work.  These stories also allow businesses to prioritize and focus on “big picture” items that drive success or avoid making the same mistakes.   For me, the game seems to be tilted more towards failure than success because today’s success doesn’t necessarily mean success tomorrow. Complacency will get you every time. There are so many ways to get tripped up, and companies appear to create new missteps every year. Companies are always trying to change the rules of the game to their favor. This is the kind of stuff that keeps you up at night.  One mistake and your company could be OUT OF THE GAME.

One potential major obstacle for success is your selection of suppliers. Surely, picking the right supplier is key to any business strategy. Suppliers can make your life miserable if they under perform. Poor quality, late deliveries, inaccurate or untimely communications, the inability to quickly resolve issues, price instability, and a lack of technical expertise and creativity will most definitely impact a company’s top and bottom-line performance if their supply chain is behaving badly. So, it seems crazy to me that customer-relationships are generally poor. As a pressure sensitive tape manufacturer, I feel it both ways.   At times, I feel I don’t have the support from suppliers I need and the relationship with customers I want despite our best efforts to create “customer-supplier partnerships”. Luckily, we enjoy a few strong relationships that keep our hopes up and the business going. But, businesses need more than just a few strong relationships to survive.

Relationships are always a matter or trust – you have to be able to trust your suppliers.  It is sad that during the most recent economic downturn many customer-supplier relationships were damaged or weakened. How do you know if you have selected the right supplier? It’s a matter of expectations, i.e. both implicit and explicit. Do they do what they say they will do? And, do they do it well? An example of several explicit expectations would be…”I want so much of Product “X” by “XYZ” date for this “Y” amount.”  In the end, the correct product arrives on-time, to quantity, and at the right price. As a supplier to many small companies, this type of performance is critical when cash flow is tight. We know our customers appreciate our dedication to quality and service because they tell us all the time.  Examples of implicit expectations are (1) How courteous was the supplier when I ordered? (2) Did they make you feel like you were an inconvenience? (3) Did they acknowledge the order in a timely manner? (4) Did they keep you informed about your order’s status? (4) Did the product work as intended?  And, finally if there was an issue (6) How was the issue resolved?  Hopefully, you came away feeling that you’ve been treated fairly.  If you didn’t, then you should. You deserve too to be treated fairly. How these and many other customer-supplier interactions unfold either builds trust or reduces it.      

Every business needs suppliers. Suppliers have the technical expertise, know-how, capabilities, and possibly capacity that their customers do not. Your supply base should be committed to you. Supplier’s need to take an interest in your business and understand it; even if you are a small business. If you and your supplier have this type of good relationship, good things will happen and your business will grow. Which in turn allows your supplier to grow. It’s a win-win if done correctly. So, select suppliers that treat you with respect. You are not an inconvenience. Select suppliers you are comfortable with and trust. Create partnerships with your suppliers you deserve. Your business depends on it.

Nova Films & Foils strives to be a good, trustworthy supplier to our customers.  We service our customers with respect, manufacture quality products, and deliver on time. We not only provide solutions to your everyday needs, we are happy to work with the customer to develop unique solutions for your extraordinary needs.  We would like to be your partner. 




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