By Denis Jakuc
No business is an island. Depending on the nature of your operation, you may need to work with suppliers — manufacturers and distributors to provide anything from product parts to office supplies. You’ll also need service providers — accountants, attorneys, marketers, even business coaches and human resource advisers.
These suppliers and service providers are the vendors that will help you deliver better products, responsive service, and competitive pricing to your clients and customers. The goal is to put together a core group of suppliers and service providers you can rely on.
Finding that core group of reliable, competitively priced suppliers takes time. You may first be turned away. Some wholesalers and distributors won’t sell to very small businesses because it takes them just as much time to process a $200 order as it does a $2,000 one. Others may demand payment up front until you’ve established credit with them.
You may find that big box stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Staples, are selling items at the lowest prices out there. For example, Home Depot offers contractors and individuals a Volume Pricing Program (VPP) for orders of at least $1,500 if you bring them to the Pro desk.
Just keep pursuing options, and you’ll eventually have all the vendor help you need. Here’s how to proceed.
Ask for referrals
Ask people you know and trust for the names of people they may have used as suppliers and service providers for the needs you’re looking to fill. People to ask may be colleagues, friends, or folks you meet in person at conferences and networking groups. They also may be people you meet digitally in online forums, and on LinkedIn, Reddit, and Facebook groups.
Don’t just get the vendor’s name and contacts. Ask the person referring what it was like working with the referral.
Ask everyone you can. Even if the people you’re asking haven’t used the kind of resources you need, they may know someone who has.
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