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29th August, 2019

10 signs it’s time to switch suppliers

Are you a loyal customer and stick with the same suppliers through the good times and the bad? Or are you happy to shop around and switch suppliers based on the best deal?

A great supplier is a brilliant asset to a business and the value they deliver to your business can increase the longer you’ve been their customer.

Unfortunately like in life relationships, not all business relationships are positive for both parties. They may have started off brilliantly, but you may get a feeling it’s not going as well now.

It’s easy to stick our heads in the sand and focus on getting through each day delivering to our customers. But this means we may be missing the signs that our suppliers are actually holding our business back.

READ: Six overlooked costs of switching suppliers

To make it a little easier, here is a list of some signs that your supplier may not be giving you the service you deserve.

1. The price keeps increasing without notification or justification

Getting the pricing right for businesses can be a challenge however the customer shouldn’t be the one who must bear the inconvenience of such price changes.

In these times of low inflation it’s reasonable that an explanation for a price increase should be offered along with notice of when the prices will increase.

2. Quality of the product or service has declined

Maybe those nice little extras – the bag of lollies in with the order, or personal delivery without a fee – have stopped. Or you’ve noticed the quality of the products has slipped, which is resulting in customer returns or complaints.

3. Contact is difficult

You used to be able to get through to your representative via phone or they would answer your email on the same day.

Now you find your calls never get through and emails are taking a lot longer to be answered. Perhaps you’ve lost the ability to speak to a decision maker and instead seem to get gatekeepers who are not very helpful.

4. Mistakes with invoicing

You’re spending time ringing up correcting invoicing errors or you’re receiving notices to pay invoices that have already been paid. When accounts are in control the business is in control, which means your supplier is currently jeopardising your control.

5. Being asked for information already provided

Have you ever found yourself saying “I’ve already given you this information”? It’s a frustrating situation to be in, particularly if you have spent time preparing a brief for your supplier with key information. You want to know that your information and time is respected.

6. Your rep has left (and you don’t like the replacement)

You don’t always get the opportunity to find out why sales representatives leave. If they were a good rep and provided excellent service, and their replacement isn’t up to scratch, it might be time to look for a new supplier.

If the representative had been with your supplier for a long time, their sudden departure may be a sign of trouble ahead.

7. No gratitude

Customers are what make a business, and if a supplier forgets that it’s a good time to find a new supplier.

One sign that businesses have become complacent about their customers is when they stop thanking you for your business. One of my favourite sayings is “you’re only as good as your last haircut”. You can never assume that a customer will come back.

Suppliers should work to make sure their clients come back by providing excellent customer service and that always means showing gratitude for the transaction.

8. You’re no longer in their target market

All businesses evolve and may seek out new customer groups. If your business no longer fits into your supplier’s target market, it’s probably a good time to think about changing suppliers.

After all, if this is the case, then you’re no longer a good match for the business and their services and products won’t be tailored to your needs as much as before.

9. Your current supplier makes more work for you

No business needs someone to make more work for them.

Whether it’s having a really tedious ordering system that’s outdated and inefficient or just grumpy employees who are difficult to deal with – who’s got the energy? If you’re finding yourself more frustrated than grateful for your supplier, the writing is on the wall.

10. You’re getting complaints from staff

If you’re not dealing directly with your supplier, then what your staff say about your supplier is really important to hear. If your staff are continually complaining about them, it sounds as though there’s a problem.

Switching suppliers can take a lot of mental energy and due diligence so you don’t want to do it unless it’s absolutely necessary.

If you’ve identified several signs in the list above, it may be time to prioritise investigating new suppliers. And while it may seem sad to have to break up a business relationship like this, look on the bright side; your customers, staff and sanity will thank you.

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