How to Spot a Good Vendor Partner

Any procurement professional can identify the right supplier, which in turn results in satisfied employees and customers. But how exactly do you best select a vendor partner?

Selecting suppliers can be a tricky, but important decision in any business. With proper research, any procurement professional can identify the right supplier, which in turn results in satisfied employees and at the end of the day, satisfied customers. How to best select a vendor partner? Look no further.

Expertise with Target Market
If your organization focuses on supporting multi-family housing, ensure that prospective suppliers have proven expertise in the industry. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from organizations of a similar size and mission to your own. One of the biggest mistakes can be taking a chance on a supplier trying to expand out of their core competency.

Capacity Planning
Make sure the suppliers in question have the ability to service all of your needs at present day, and have the willingness and ability to grow with you in the short and long-term future. Is the supplier able to service and/or deliver to all of your locations? Will they be able to support large orders or be able to come through in an emergency situation? Provide the supplier with potential scenarios to set proper expectations and ensure they will be the right fit for your organization.

Open and Honest Communication
Communication is a key attribute in an A+ supplier partnership, but often difficult to gauge when administering an RFP. Take note of responsiveness and willingness to provide information during the bidding process. Ensure that your short list of potential partners provide several layers of contact information. A single point of contact can often lead to a single point of failure.
Be as honest with prospective partners as possible with an accurate scope of work, issues you’ve seen with past partners, and set proper expectations from the beginning.

Ethical, Sustainable, and Diverse
Industries are continuing to invest in more sustainable products and services, ethically compliant organizations, and companies with a commitment to diversity and inclusion of their workforce. These are all important questions to ask during the bidding phase. If your organization receives outside funding based on any of these factors, it is imperative that any supplier, product, or service regulations are noted and discussed prior to awarding a supplier. For example, many HPN Select customers are committed to providing green, healthy, and sustainable homes for people seeking affordable housing, so it is imperative that our vendor partners support that mission.

Quality, Price, and Timeliness
Be clear and concise during the bidding process of products or services and ensure pricing submissions are comparing “apples to apples”. Visit the manufacturing facilities, request samples, and consult with others in the industry before diving head first with a new vendor partner. Take your time and solicit internal and external feedback. Remember, the lowest price doesn’t always result in the best performance for your organization.

In conclusion, do not rush the supplier selection process! This is often a long-term decision that can prove very beneficial (or not) to the success of your organization. If internal resources are lacking, there are outsourced procurement organizations that can assist your purchasing process.

HPN Select is a group purchasing organization that specializes in assisting multi-family housing developer and operators.

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