As a business owner, a common goal is to be #1 in your market.
Your market might be only your local town, your region, or nationwide. For some companies, it could even be international. Either way, your company must have excellent relationships with your suppliers to reach that goal.
You can’t dominate your market if you have unreliable suppliers. Your suppliers must be trustworthy, fairly priced, and reliable. They must be willing to work with your company to overcome challenges if they arise, which any business owner knows far too well these “challenges” can show their face at the most inopportune times.
On the flip side, you must be willing to reciprocate the business relationship with your suppliers. That means not beating them up on pricing. It means being loyal. It requires good communication.
Our #1 Foam Fingers Supplier
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit our favorite factory where our custom foam fingers are made. This experience was not only educational to learn the 7 steps to manufacturing bulk foam fingers but also critical in advancing our professional relationship with this key supplier.
I was able to see, firsthand, the process of making foam fingers, which has been one of our top-selling school spirit items for many years. Check out the video below from my factory visit to see the 7 Steps to Making Foam Fingers.
More important than learning the manufacturing process, I was able to meet all of the people behind the scenes. I value this part of the experience the most. Meeting these hard-working Americans who show up day after day to fulfill my orders was an awesome experience. It personalizes the relationship. This helped me see that I’m not doing business with a corporation, but with people. It humanized the relationship, which is so important to take our professional relationship with this supplier to the next level.
From the moment I arrived for my factory visit, I could tell my supplier was all-in and vested in advancing our professional relationship. They went above and beyond the norm to make me feel welcome.
During my 2-day stay, I was able to learn the process of making foam fingers, as well as other foam products such as promotional sponges. I was able to meet with the owner and the sales manager of the company. We all had dinner together, which was a great opportunity to get to know each other. I was able to meet the art director, whom we frequently communicate with by email. I was also able to meet our customer service rep, which before I had only known by speaking to her by phone. The professional relationships with these people I communicate with often about orders for foam hands for my clients were elevated by meeting them face-to-face.
It’s true I get to meet many of the voices on the other end of the phone when I go to industry trade shows, such as PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, but this dedicated factory visit was on a different level. The time at trade shows for suppliers spending time with distributors is split between 20,000 people, so extended conversations are often not possible. For those more in-depth conversations over dinner or drinks, suppliers have to choose only a handful of distributors over the course of the week. However, my visit to the factory was 100% focused on improving the distributor-supplier relationship with a bonus of learning what goes on behind the scenes in the manufacturing of foam fingers.
Positive Supplier Relationships Benefit Our Customers
A company can only be successful if it has great suppliers. A weak supplier will cause problems for the employees of a company who have to deal with that supplier, and those problems will make their way all the way to the customers of a business.
However, a great supplier will make your company look like a hero. Forging healthier relationships with suppliers benefit our customers by ensuring fair pricing, speedier service, better quality craftsmanship, and unrivaled customer service. When problems do arise, they are dealt with more efficiently and solutions are offered. Dependability is established. Loyalty is earned. A stronger relationship is formed with our customers.
This creates a win-win-win relationship, which is a win for the supplier, distributor, and our customers.
Rinse and Repeat
All of these benefits came from a simple 2-day visit to one of our factories. Now to replicate this experience with our other factories and we’ll be well on our way to not only being the preferred distributor of foam fingers, but also the preferred distributor for many other types of promotional products.
Knowing your suppliers is important. By this, I mean knowing the people in that supplier chain. The fate of your business doesn’t rest on the cheapest price you can get for your products, but whether or not you have a professional relationship built on trust and loyalty.
Get to know your suppliers, and you’ll find your business soaring at an all-time high. Only then will you see what being #1 is really all about.