If your customer’s order isn’t ready in time or they are unhappy with the quality of their business-critical trade show displays, the reasons why you couldn’t deliver in time will never be enough to justify his lost revenue for the show. All that he or she will know is that as a distributor it’s all your fault. And, you can be sure that the customer will tell everyone they know about the disaster.
Don’t let it happen to you. Learn to recognize the five biggest warning signs that disaster is looming with your suppliers.
1. Missing Deadlines and Logistical Nightmares
Everyone makes mistakes, but professionals catch them before they do any harm. If your supplier is behind schedule, this usually indicates structural problems like over-commitment or supply chain disruption. It certainly means that some employees aren’t doing their jobs and orders aren’t getting the care they require. Cutting corners under pressure leads to poor quality, wrong delivery addresses and pop up tents that don’t pop up when they should. Always stay on top of these issues. A onetime occurrence of missing a deadline is already way too many. This is a big red alert that you need to find a different supplier, pronto!
2. Low Quality Materials and Poor Design
Many things can go wrong with promotional items and displays, especially with items as important as custom canopy. Low quality will always stand out, especially in details as fine as the shade of ink on the logo or the specific font of the letters. To the customer, when something like this is shipped, it will always be your fault as a distributor because you should have known better. You may even end up losing money on the deal just trying to make it right. Chalk it up to a lesson well learned and find a new supplier.
3. Old-World Customer Service
Companies that excel at sales are often the worst at customer service. If you find it impossible to contact the supplier with an issue or even a question, it’s time to look for a new one. Sometimes they make you feel like a hot potato being passed among multiple contacts, each of whom is supposed to be handling your account. In the end, no one takes responsibility and there is no consistency from one job to the next. Many companies promise to correct problems and then conveniently forget or stop responding to phone calls. Take this as a big hint and find a supplier who actually cares about doing business with you.
4. Not Living Up to Their Advertising
A photo is worth a thousand words, but it can be bad if the final product doesn’t live up to the Photoshopped sample. Don’t offer products made with cheap or inadequate material to your customers. Customers expect you to recognize unprofessional pop up tent frames that are too flimsy to survive travel to a show. They need to rely on simple, sturdy solutions like custom instant canopy that can withstand the test of time and last from one event to the next. If the customer arrives at the event and discovers that setting up the tent is an embarrassment, you will never hear from that customer or their network connections again.
5. They’ve Run Out of Ideas
Maybe there’s nothing wrong from an operational standpoint, but your supplier is just too boring. They have the same old products as everyone else. Customers want to feel the excitement of ordering cool new items that will set them apart from their competitors at their next show. They are counting on you to supply them with the hottest items that everyone is looking for at the moment, like an Inflatable Tent such as the Air Dome that is not only visually attractive, but that also keeps their logos visible and holds up to strong winds. When you build a reputation as an innovator, customers will follow your advice on trying out promotional items that are hot in European markets and other parts of the world. If your supplier brings nothing exciting to the table, find a new place to shop because you will eventually lose your customer’s attention.
Are Your Suppliers True Business Partners?
To the customer, you and your supplier are one unit. The levels of supplier quality, responsiveness, carefulness, and creativity reflect on your business. Look for suppliers who are true business partners – committed to customer satisfaction and that are not looking to make quick profits from you. Your supplier should treat each order from you like it’s a make-or-break deal. With so many competitors to choose from in terms of promotional items, the customer has zero time for apologies, so always stay on top.