Working together makes us stronger!
Graham Fitton, Finance Director at VEKA UK shares his top tips for choosing the right supplier for a mutually beneficial long-term partnership.
We all have them, the suppliers that we couldn’t imagine being without. The ones who know us, our business and our industry inside and out. They become integral to the smooth running of our company, but we sometimes lose sight of their value through the traditional ‘customer – supplier’ dynamic.
It’s sensible to take a good look at your supplier portfolio, but in times like these, it’s not always about looking to make a saving. Are your current suppliers serving you in the way that’s right for you and your business? How secure are they and what would be the effect on your business if they were to close their doors tomorrow?
A good supplier isn’t one that will do everything you ask of them, potentially damaging their own business in the process. A good supplier works and grows with you for mutual success. You trust them in the times they have to say no, because you know that they want nothing more that to give you what you need.
When choosing a new supplier, or if you’re reviewing your existing ones, I recommend that you look past the personality of the account manager and the promises in the marketing literature. There are clues to help you decide if you’re making a good choice for your business in the long-term.
Choose a supplier that has been established for a long time and weathered many storms effectively. At VEKA plc we’ve seen many since we opened in 1986, from two recessions to Brexit to a Pandemic. The worth of a company isn’t seen in the times of prosperity, but the times of adversity. What culture has the company built? What are its core values, and do they align with yours?
Security goes hand in hand with heritage, because you must see a proven track record of financial integrity and responsibility. Look at their published accounts and into the background of their directors. Make sure you’re not choosing a supplier that will close its doors on a Friday to reopen as a completely different company on the Monday.
How does the company manage its debt? Every company has an element of responsible and manageable debt, but is this used to invest in its people, products and services? If a company can’t manage their finances, it’s a good indicator that they won’t be running the rest of their business efficiently either.
What have been their patterns of action in their time in business? Do they continue to invest in the company? Are they prepared to make difficult decisions and have honest conversations? This is important when establishing trust, because you need to know that they will communicate any changes that may affect your business in good time. Companies that tend to only promote the good news and bury their head in the sand lack integrity are a huge threat to the stability of your business.
A good supplier is worth its weight in gold and can be a huge influence on the success of your business. At VEKA we want to be a safe choice for our customers. Safe doesn’t mean we’re not still pioneering; it means that we do everything responsibly and with careful assessment and management of risk. In a world filled with uncertainty, ‘safe’ seems a pretty good deal.
Take a look at our timeline to see how many storms we’ve navigated over the years: