Working with suppliers is an excellent place to start. Sourcing reliable, well-priced suppliers who offer exceptional service is something that Assistants are frequently tasked with. It is a vital service we can provide our organisation. Finding the right supplier for your business can be tricky; you must look at costs and what they offer to meet your specific needs. It is worth securing the right partner for every level of your business, from your stationery supplier to your catering providers and the venues you hire for events.
Finding the right partner saves you time, money and hassle!
Once we have secured a fantastic supplier, you will work with them regularly, and you must know how to build a productive relationship that benefits your organisation. Here is everything you need to know about sourcing suitable suppliers for your business with our guide, Getting the basics right: Personal and Executive Assistant Key Tasks.
Understand your buying power
You must understand your buying power. It could be something simple like you working for a large global organisation and spending a lot of money with suppliers. It could be that your organisation is up and coming, and being associated with you will benefit the supplier.
Alternatively, you could be looking for a partnership that will last a significant amount of time and give the supplier substantial money over a lengthy contract. Whatever it happens to be, understanding your buying power will enable you to negotiate and help you attract high-quality suppliers.
Price isn’t everything.
We’ve all mistakenly bought something because of the price, only to find it falls apart within a few days. Plenty of deals exist to be made, but you shouldn’t select suppliers on their price alone.
Alternatively, select suppliers with excellent reputations who have been in the business for a while and understand your requirements.
Try the manufacturer for better discounts.
In certain circumstances, it is well worth contacting the manufacturer of a product directly to ask for discounts, mainly if you buy in bulk.
I recently went to the manufacturer to buy over 100 notebooks for an event, and they gave me a great price. Going directly to the supplier rather than a third party can also work for hotels, airlines and venues.
Ask your network
If you are in the market for a new supplier, asking your network if they have any recommendations is worthwhile. You should be coordinating your procurement activities with other assistants in your organisation for several reasons.
Firstly you don’t want to use the same supplier but have different rates. It is much easier to negotiate discounts across a large organisation than it is just your department. Lastly, they might have a great supplier while you are using a mediocre one. Social media is also a great way to get recommendations, particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Remember to pass their details onto your network to get additional customers from their hard work if they are a great supplier. This is an excellent example of how networking works! Pass their details on, let the supplier know you are doing that, and they should be more willing to pass discounts on to you.
Meet in person
If your supplier is local to you, it is well worth meeting in person to discuss and negotiate face-to-face and build rapport with them.
If you have a great relationship with your supplier, it is easier to ask favours, negotiate contracts and get them to work quickly in an emergency. If they invite you to a client party or want to take you out for dinner, do go along – how often do assistants get wined and dined?
Always try to meet the person who will be looking after your account so that you can start to build that relationship. They will treat you much better if they can put a face to a name.
Attend trade shows
Trade shows are a fantastic way to meet potential suppliers. Make it worthwhile by taking business cards and visiting as many stands as possible.
You may not need that supplier immediately, but you might need their services in the future. If you have a specific product in mind, let all the exhibitors in that industry know you are looking for a new supplier. They can often make deals at trade shows they may not make back in the office.
What is next when getting the basics right: Personal and Executive Assistant Key Tasks?