Why you don't need to feel guilty about changing suppliers...

By Kym Jarman

Are you getting the best deal possible?

Are there better options out there?

How long has it been since you ran an audit of what you have in place, and more importantly, what your business is getting for its money from your workplace service providers?

I am not talking about incoming ‘product’ or ‘supplies’ specifically. I am more-so talking about things like your workplace waste management, cleaning, washroom and hygiene services, photocopiers/printers and the like.

A lot of these can often be “set and forget” items.

But, how do you know there is not a better, more-friendly supplier out there “champing at the bit” to look after you?

After all, being a “new” client on someone’s books, does sound a lot more conducive to “being looked after”, rather than being a long-term customer of a company that considers you a “permanent feature” or dare I say it, may even “take you for granted”.

You need to ask yourself this question: Is my supplier looking after its current and long-term clients like me, or are they concentrating on chasing new business?

If you fear it’s the latter, then it may be time for a change?!

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you should start change suppliers “willy-nilly”, or do so just for the “sake” of it.

What I am saying is, as a Manager, your relationship with your workplace service providers can be almost as important as a relationship with your customers.  

Finding the “right” supply or service company can make a huge difference. Not just to your mind-set, but also things like, the service level you get, how your customers perceive you, and of course, your bottom line!

We are all busy. I get that.

As a business, if we have something in place that we believe works, it’s only natural that, we move on to the next “task” at hand. Service suppliers are easily “Set and forgotten” about.

However, as Managers, how often do we ask Staff to “improve”, go to the “next level” or develop creative or innovative ways to achieve a better result?

The answer is often!

How often do we also get excited when revenue increases, no matter if even incrementally?

However, have you ever sat there and considered that while you’re getting excited about the extra revenue your salesperson has just brought in, you could be “leaking” that exact amount of money out of the rear-end of your business by having old or outdated service agreements?

While it’s expected that a ‘Business Owner’ (moreso than a Manager) is always looking at their costs and supplier service levels, Managers can sometimes be accused of having a “near enough is good enough” attitude. After all, we’re getting a reasonably good deal, and hey “it’s not our money” right?? 

Realistically though, as a Manager, you are judged, and bench-marked against the overall results of your business.

If you can get a better product, better service, be looked after, play your part in recycling or more environmentally friendlier options, and if possible save money at the same time, how much better do you think your end of year result will look then?

Of course, when talking to potential new suppliers, it’s very important to ask questions!

Don’t let them tell you they can “do what your current supplier is doing”, without checking that they can, and asking for proof.  

Make sure their products are sound, and their service level meets your expectations.

Beware of the word “from” in pricing structures.

Make sure all things “stack up”! It needs to be a true “Apples v Apples” comparison before you make that ultimate decision.

Sometimes it’s not all about money! You may well be seeking a better service!

Your current cleaner may be cutting corners? A washroom services provider could be using cheap soap and/or paper products? – how do these things represent your business to your customers?

A new photo-copier/printer may be able to produce more professional documents.

And in cases like Waste Management – there are companies that specialise in recycling and eco-friendly bin systems. This enables your workplace to “do its’ bit for the environment” – which is great PR, and a “feel good” aspect for Staff – and in the eyes of prospective customers!

Whatever it may be, whether you’re after better service levels, or a cost saving, you should see what’s out there in the marketplace.

It could be a decision you make this week?!

Kym Jarman is a Business Coach and Marketing Consultant in Adelaide South Australia