How to Find Reliable Suppliers (Part 2) – Risk Mitigation
We promised, and we delivered! Welcome to Part 2 in our series dedicated to helping businesses pick the best, most reliable suppliers around. As we mentioned in Part 1, over the past 40 years doing business with manufacturing suppliers, we’ve come to understand three important truths: (1) A supplier can make or break some of your most important business relationships, (2) great, trustworthy suppliers can be tough to find and (3) there are a few sure-fire ways to avoid winding up in partnerships with really bad ones.
In this series of four posts, we’re sharing those “sure-fire” tricks of the trade with you! And they really boil down to four main areas of inquiry you can explore using nothing more than the supplier’s website and Google Search. In Part 1, we offered a few simple research strategies to help you gauge a potential supplier’s overall quality. Our next area of inquiry—demonstrated risk mitigation—is just as critical. So let’s get going!
Source #1: Google Search
1. Check for involvement in past lawsuits
Involvement in a past lawsuit of any kind is an obvious red flag that should spark further inquiry. And, thanks to the internet, you’ll have no trouble finding out if your potential supplier has ever been involved in one—especially if you’re armed with Google and a super-solid search query. So, what might a search query of the super-solid variety look like? Something highly complex and technical, such as:
[Company Name] lawsuit
Which would look something like, “Supplier Bob lawsuit.” Yep. It’s just that easy.
2. Check for watchdog or regulatory agency trouble
You might want to question your own risk mitigation practices if you ever knowingly get involved with a supplier who’s been in trouble with any sort of watchdog or regulatory agency. This kind of trouble spells nothing but, well, a lot more trouble down the road. But never fear! You can rest assured that, if evidence of such trouble exists, it’s somewhere on the internet. And we have another handy-dandy search query template you can use to find it. Though slightly less straightforward, this search format is still quite simple:
[Agency Name] [Company Name]
Or, for example, “Department of Transportation Supplier Bob.” Be sure to have a list of agencies relevant to a supplier’s industry, and check each one using the same format. On the bright side, you just might like what you find!
Source #2: Company Website
When you’ve been in business for 40 years, your frame of reference gives you great appreciation for the oft-overlooked wealth of information available on a company’s website. Address and phone, listed services and lead times…it’s all great and useful stuff, but the info you need now goes deeper than the dropdown menu. To really leverage the wealth of information available on a company’s website, you’ve got to read between the lines. But, before we go on, be sure to keep in mind that a few awesome, trustworthy suppliers are old-school holdouts whose websites aren’t nearly as awesome as their service. These sites might not have much information to work with at all. In those cases, find what you can and never underestimate the power of the good, old gut check.
1. Does the site feature any stellar compliance ratings?
Because, in most cases, if a supplier has stellar compliance, they’ll talk about it somewhere on their site. The “About Us” page is a great place to start. But don’t stop there if you don’t find anything; poke around a bit before you give up.
2. Check for industry watchdog and regulatory agency logos or mentions.
If a supplier has been in trouble with an agency, they’ll want to stay as far away from it as they can. Having that agency’s logo or mentioning the agency on their website would be way too close for comfort. So, if you find important agency logos or mentions on a supplier’s website, consider it a strong indicator of risk mitigation. Check on the home and “About Us” pages first; if you don’t find anything there, poke around on the other site pages to see what you can find.
Quick side note: Logos are easy to find, but mentions can be tough. To make it a whole lot easier, conduct a Ctrl+F search. To do this, hold down the Control key, then type “F.” You’ll see a search box appear in the upper right corner of your screen. Type an agency name in the box, then hit Enter. Matches will be highlighted on the page.
3. Check for multiple facilities.
Redundancy reduces risk. It might be a buzz phrase, but that doesn’t make it any less true, right? At first glance, it doesn’t really seem like there’s a way to check for redundancy on a company’s website, but we know a secret. The existence of multiple facilities within a company indicates redundancy. So be sure to check the site, which should mention multiple facilities if they exist
These handy tips should help next time you’re looking into a potential supplier, but don’t miss the big picture! Check out Part 1 in this series for tips on gauging a supplier’s overall quality. And be sure to check back here on the Lyall Blog for Part 3 in our series; we’ll be talking about the all-important topic of “reputation.” Coming soon!
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