Say you need a vendor to run pre-employment background checks on your candidates. Do you also need a private investigator to dig deep into your candidates’ lives? Do you need specialty services, like fingerprinting and drug testing? When will you need your vendor to be available? How quickly do you need his service? You can shorten the process by figuring out exactly what you need before you go looking.
How to Make a Wish List for Your Perfect Vendor Relationship
Once you’ve determined your needs and available vendors, you may be left with a long list of candidates. You can narrow the list by prioritizing the factors that are most important to your company. Common considerations include cost, fees, experience, support, service, and additional offerings.
You probably have a narrow budget for selecting a new vendor. Many vendors will fall in a similar range if they model their pricing on market value. Discount options may be available, but make sure you look closely at the drawbacks. Discount options can come with strings attached, such as hidden fees, poor quality, limited customer service, and more.
Start-Up / Implementation Fees
How much will the new relationship cost you? Pay careful attention to whether the vendor charges a fee for bringing you on as a client. Ask for specific details on delivery costs, software/hardware implementation and fees, consulting costs or fees associated with service, and whether you’ll need increased liability insurance.
Start-ups are everywhere and may offer discounted service as they try to break into the market, but that doesn’t mean they’re serving up quality. Check the experience of your potential vendor before beginning a relationship. A vendor’s time in the industry may impact whether he will be able to meet your expectations and provide quality returns.
When and where is support available to you? Try to determine beforehand how much support you may need, and ask your vendor if he will be able to meet your expectations. Also consider whether a vendor outsources any part of his operation, which can impact how well you are able to work together and how fast or slow you are able to solve problems.
Vendor management requires getting your company what it needs on time so you can effectively serve your customers. If your customer has a problem with the product or service that was delivered, her concerns fall on you to fix. Make sure you will have access to the same, if not better, level of customer service from your vendor that you give your clients.
Additional Services / Products Offered
You may want to add services or products as your business grows and changes. If your vendor can’t or isn’t likely to offer innovation or additional services in the future, you may have to split your needs between vendors. Note: if your vendor offers other services/products unrelated to what you need, he may be splitting his focus between too many business goals to effectively serve you.
5 Tips for Finding the Vendor for Your Particular Needs
Ask the opinion of key decision-makers from different areas of the business. Draw from the varied perspectives of a few different people. Compile the details of what your business expects to get from the vendor relationship and rank them by priority.
Solicit feedback from friends or peers at other companies. Especially for local vendors, you may know someone at another business who has used the vendor before. She can give you the low-down on a vendor’s strengths and weaknesses.
Look at the vendors you already have. Compare your list of possible vendors to those you already use and pay attention to any overlap. You may already have a vendor who can handle your new need with a contract addition or amendment.
Look at your prospects’ other services. There may be companies on your prospect list that can handle your desired need and provide another service or product fulfillment. They may offer a lower price or better quality than your current vendor.
Get a background check. Some companies look great on paper, but disappoint you later. Get the Whole Story on your vendors’ employees so you know you can rely on them to provide what you need. Professional, accredited background screeners like InfoMart provide criminal histories, verifications, and more.