How to Ensure Your Supplier is Compliant with Standards
By: Vlad Moldavskiy
Business owners often enjoy having complete control of balancing life and business while pursuing their dreams. But that control can quickly be derailed by a poor performing supplier that can affect your bottom line and your customer’s satisfaction. Start by finding a solid and reputable supplier that meets standards and certifications in your industry. Here are five ways to get started.
Check their certifications
One of the easiest ways to check if your supplier is compliant with standards is to research their certifications. However, this isn’t always simple. Different industries have various certifications and codes of standards. Start by checking to see if your supplier lists their certification prominently on their site. For example, companies like Apple Rubber post their AS9100 certification on their site to showcase their compliance with the standard of the aerospace industry. It’s also helpful if the company explains the certification in layman's terms for business owners who are more focused on their bottom line than the latest in industry standards.
Research their reputation
Do a little sleuthing to uncover the reputation of your suppliers. Request customer testimonials and ask for a short phone call. Chances are if your supplier gives you a customer recommendation, it's because they know it will be positive. To ensure you're getting the information you need, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends asking the customer specific questions relevant to your needs. Find out how the supplier dealt with a difficult situation and how they resolved complaints. When possible, attend trade shows to meet potential suppliers in person and ask them about their certifications, compliant standards and repeat customers. The SBA also suggests checking relevant trade magazines to find out about the latest in certifications, read interviews with suppliers and even browse the classifieds to see who is offering services you need.
Run a quality control test
Once you find a supplier, run a small quality control test to see how the service goes. Most suppliers offer the opportunity to order a sample. But this is only a first step in determining if the supplier is reliable and produces quality results. Next, place a small order of your product to see how long it takes to arrive, determine how fast the supplier responds to communication and how they fix any issues. Keep careful notes about the life-cycle of the order from start to finish and slowly increase your order size and repeat the test.
Choosing big or small suppliers
Finding a large supplier may offer a better price point. But size and price is only the first thing to look for in quality service. Your business and customers will suffer if your supplier is always behind on orders or has poor communication skills. Large suppliers may have a more robust system and customer service channels in place if a problem arises. But smaller suppliers may offer more hands-on, one-on-one support you prefer.
Request a supplier audit
Not every small business owner has the time or necessary experience to figure out if their supplier is meeting standards. Consider hiring a third party to perform a supplier audit. Trained professionals can look into the overall manufacturing process from engineering to invoicing. The audit can also help verify the supplier's compliance and potential certifications. The end result can give business owners a wider understanding of their suppliers and improve the process. That can mean more peace of mind that your bottom line is protected and your customers are satisfied with your product.