Does your sign supplier maintain adequate stock of the products you need?

A good relationship with your sign suppliers is a key factor in having a successful business. You want to look for suppliers who are reliable, honest and helpful. They should be quick to point out new items that can contribute to your sign shop's success, and increase your sales. When you have a good relationship with your suppliers, that is mutually beneficial, you'll find they can be a great asset for your business.

The start to having a good relationship with your suppliers is by realizing that it is a business relationship, and the road goes both ways. Don't constantly ask for price reductions, and don't be late with making payments. The quickest way a relationship goes sour is when one party stops holding up their end of the bargain. When starting with a new supplier, don't expect to get the same kind of treatment as long-time customers do. Working relationships need to be developed over the course of time and repeated business dealings. To get started with finding suppliers, you'll want to first make a list of all your prospects.

Next, ask for quotes or proposals from each supplier. Make sure the quote includes full pricing, plus any available discounts, what the terms of delivery are, and any other factors that are important to your sign shop. Once you have the terms from each supplier compare them. This is one part of determining a supplier. Keeping what you have gathered from your quote comparison in mind, do a bit of further investigation. Find out what each supplier's financial condition is. Ask the supplier for customer references and follow up on them. You will want to know from other customers how well the supplier has performed, and what, if any, are their complaints against them. If any problems have arisen, ask how they were resolved. While no business/supplier relationship is perfect, the most important thing is how these issues have been handled. You will want a supplier who is helpful, and ready to resolve problems, not one who is defensive or uncooperative.

When you finally sit down to discuss business with your supplier, be open and honest. Tell them, in a courteous but firm way, what you expect of them. Give them a clear description of what you need and when you need it, and make sure to get into the specifics; you'll need to know the total cost, the delivery procedure, and any other important details.

Staying in regular communication with your supplier keeps you abreast to any changes in the plan, such as if a shipment will be late, or if there any issues with your products. Suppliers should also keep you alert to new product information and potential savings for your sign shop. Overall, having a good relationship with your supplier is like having another hard worker on your team; when given the proper attention and instruction, they can be a major asset to the success of your small business.