small business vendors

How to Select the Best Small Business Vendors

At this point in my career, I have a pretty good handle on what I can do and what I cannot. Just like everyone else, I have only 24 hours in each day, and I need to spend the right portion of my working hours doing the work I’m paid to do!

So I hire people to do the things I don’t specialize in, like accounting, graphic design, and project management. That way, I can spend time doing the things I am good at, like copywriting, social media management, and public relations.

But every time I hire a vendor, I take a risk. This person could make me more productive and successful through his or her products and services. Or… they could drag me down by not delivering as promised.

I’ve come up with a process for selecting vendors that has served me well, and I bet it can help you, too. Weed out the vendor duds and find your perfect provider with these tips:

Key Characteristics of the Best Small Business Vendors

Working with vendors is all about relationships, so make sure the vendor you choose to partner with has the following characteristics:

Capacity: This characteristic is one of my most important considerations in vendor selection because it lets me know if the vendor can get the job done. Get clear on a vendor’s lead times for planning, production, and delivery so you can incorporate these elements into your own project schedule.

Integrity: I always check out client testimonials and customer recommendations to find out if the vendor delivers on time as promised. Do your own research to make sure the vendor is trustworthy and experienced.

Price: Of course, price is always a major consideration, but I try to keep in mind that vendors need to make a profit, too. Negotiate and get the best price you can, but be willing to pay for excellent service.

Quality: Products and services that don’t meet my expectations are unacceptable. Be prepared to push back with anything below the level of quality you paid for.

5 Questions for Evaluating Small Business Vendors

As I research possible vendors, I use this short list of questions to help me decide if their product or service will meet my needs:

  1. Is the company well established, or am I worried that the vendor might disappear overnight and stop supporting their services?
  2. Are their prices fair compared to what others are offering, and do I think I will get the value I’m looking for by working with them?
  3. How do they support clients and customers?
  4. Do they offer a solution with the features and versatility that will make my life easier?
  5. Do they work to innovate and improve their product so it stays up-to-date and relevant with my needs as new trends emerge?

Drafting a Contract for New Vendors

After finding the perfect vendor, I draft a simple contract so we’re all clear on the details and deliverables. I try to cover all the bases by planning for the best- and worst-case scenarios. Depending on the service (for example, accounting services), I may even ask my lawyer to draft or review the contract just to be sure I haven’t missed anything.

It’s not fun, but totally necessary – I consider the entire gamut, including what happens in the event of default, death, disinterest, etc. Finally, I take one more look at each and every word of the contract, and I always make sure everyone has fully executed copies.

Partnering with the right vendor can really take your business to the next level. Unfortunately, partnering with a dud can bring you down a few notches, too. Take time to select the right ones and work hard to nurture the business-vendor relationship – you’ll be glad you did!

Want to partner with a vendor that takes the business-vendor relationship seriously? Get in touch to find out how we can help you meet your content marketing goals.

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