Great Ideas for your Small Business: Expand Your Vendor Network
Is your business overly dependent upon one or two suppliers for the things you need on a regular basis? What would happen if your primary supplier called today and said he or she unexpectedly ran out of the materials you need?
What would your employees do if the delivery truck broke down in Ohio, and your raw materials were sitting on the side of the highway for three days?
Although most small business owners prefer to establish stable, long-term relationships with vendors and suppliers, savvy entrepreneurs always find alternative sources for key products. Being loyal to vendors is important, especially if what you need is in short supply. But things change. You have to protect yourself and your workers by having alternative sources.
No matter what business you’re in, begin looking around for new places to buy materials:
- Order catalogs from competing companies.
- Send away for brochures.
- Collect current price lists.
- Put all the information you receive in a file, with the hope that you’ll never need it.
when you begin looking around for new or alternative suppliers, you might be surprised to find that you are paying too much for essential products or services. If you do find a better deal, there’s nothing wrong with going back to your primary suppliers and asking them to meet or beat the new prices you found. Your current suppliers probably won’t want to lose your business. They will often propose a discount or new payment terms to maintain the business relationship.
If it’s been so long that you don’t know where to look for new suppliers, browse through an industry trade magazine or newsletter. Trade magazines are a terrific source of new ideas and products. Check out all the advertisements placed by companies that serve your industry.
Another great way to expand your business horizons is to attend a trade show or professional meeting. You’ll be able to find new products, services, supplies, and customers—all in one place.