Many businesses rely on vendors to achieve their goals. If you find vendor selection challenging, you are not alone. The stakes can be high. There are ways to avoid problem vendors at the outset, however. The following five questions can help you weed out the bad vendors to find the right company for your next project:
- Do you have chemistry? Chemistry isn't just for romance. Working relationships need chemistry, too. In other words, you need to be able to work with this company. Follow your instincts and think of it like hiring an employee. If you don't feel right about your connection to the people you meet, then they are not the right company for you. If other employees will be working with the vendor, include them on meetings to get their feedback, as well.
- Are they respectful? Of course, they will probably show you respect because they know you have the power to hire them. But are they respectful to other staff members? People tend to show their true colors to the receptionists and administrative staff. You want to make sure that they will treat your entire staff with respect, especially those employees who will be working with them.
- Do they have references? They should, and if they provide you with them, check them. Ask if they are well-managed and organized. Did they meet deadlines? Did they stick to the budget or come back every month to request minor charges they forgot to include in their quote? These may seem like minor annoyances, but when they accumulate over the life of a project, they can become a major headache.
- Is their proposal clear? The vendor's first task is to provide you with a proposal for the project. The proposal should give you an idea regarding the quality of their work and the details of their process.
- Does the vendor understand your project? Communication goes both ways. If the vendor is not proposing the solution you are looking for, first make sure you have communicated your needs clearly to the vendor. Once you are confident you have been as clear as you can be, ask if they have the expertise needed for your project. They simply may not be the right fit for your company if they don't understand your outcome goals.
Vendors are partners in your business. You should have as much faith in them as if they were your own employees. Hopefully, asking these questions will help you find the right vendor for your business and avoid the ones that may cause you trouble down the road.