So far, in our Evaluating Vendors series, we have explored the roles of Quality, Customer Service and Cost Competitiveness. This week, we will take a look at how Industry Expertise shapes your relationship with your vendor.
A worthy vendor should be interested enough in his own industry to stay abreast of relevant trends, as well as demonstrate a good working knowledge of best practices. Ask plenty of questions and request clarity to help you make informed decisions in vendor projects and you’ll quickly get a feel for whether your vendor is winging it for the sale, or if they have a sturdy foundation of industry know-how at their disposal. Do they offer thorough explanations or redirect your questions? You should always leave the discussion having learned something useful, without doubt lingering over unanswered questions.
For instance, in the printing industry, we have different methods of producing items needed for our clients. Digital, offset and screen-printing are all methods we employ at BrandPOP — different scenarios for different items. This is an obvious example, but the devil is in the details. We feel like we are doing our jobs well when we can explain how an item is produced and set reasonable expectations accordingly. That seems simple enough, right? That’s because it should be. Beware of hesitancy to explain or the inability to provide thoughtful answers. We’re not suggesting encyclopedic knowledge is necessary, but the ability to get answers and in-depth, practical experience to draw upon absolutely are.
Likewise, a conscientious vendor takes time to bone up on their client’s industry. At BrandPOP, we have an ongoing educational effort dedicated to understanding franchise relations, food industry news and overall retail marketing strategies. That helps us understand how we fit into the big picture. Your vendor should be interested in being an active participant in your success, not a spectator. Extra points for a vendor who asks you what you think they should read or asks for newsletter recommendations in the interest of learning more about your everyday challenges on the job.
We hope we’ve given a good snapshot of what Industry Expertise looks and feels like and welcome any insights or questions in the comments section.