Most modern businesses are supported by a network of excellent suppliers. They provide the essential materials and services that companies need to function. A good relationship is essential as you’ll expect a quick turnaround at a great price. If you’re a project manager, you can expect to deal with up to 20 different suppliers on a project. That takes skill and negotiation to bring everything in on time and budget.

So, before you dive straight into the deal, make sure you ask the following questions. These questions will make sure you’re getting the best possible deal and the best service. Remember, it’s worth shopping around if you don’t get the answers you’re looking for here. Let’s take a look at the five big questions you need to be asking.

1. Are the Payment Terms Negotiable?

When you first enquire about an order, your suppliers will give you information on their payment terms. Naturally, they’ll be in their favour, but there may be some room to manoeuvre. For example, a typical invoice payment period is 30 days. Perhaps you could negotiate a later payment; some suppliers will move to 90 days. You may be able to negotiate a price reduction for bulk purchases or regular orders.

5 Questions You Should Always Ask Your Suppliers

2. Do you have Liability Insurance?

As a business, you’ll want a certain assurance of quality from your suppliers. You need to know that they won’t malfunction or break on the job. Whether it’s raw silicon and molding supplies or simple stationery, you need a guarantee. If the supplier has liability insurance, it’s a good indication of quality and trust in their products. Not only that, but if there is a problem, you should be able to claim your money back on your purchase.

3. Are there Any Other Fees Involved?

Once you have received the initial quote, double check what exactly that figure includes. In some cases, suppliers will add on the additional charges at the end of the transaction. Ask whether the initial quote includes VAT, as many suppliers only include this on the final bill. Check whether there are any delivery charges or return fees. Make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for up front.

4. Do you have a Returns Policy?

This question is pertinent when dealing with new suppliers. You don’t always know what to expect from the quality of their supplies. If it arrives below your expectations, you may want to return those items. However, some suppliers don’t have a very transparent returns policy. Returns may be restricted or there may be a fee involved. Your business might have to pay the returns delivery cost, for example. Make sure you’re clear on the details before signing a contract.

5. What is your Lead and Delivery Time?

It’s crucial that you respect the suppliers turnaround time. If you’re placing an order through CCTY Bearing, for example, it makes good sense to give them time to process it. Make sure this lead time is within your expectation. Finally, get a realistic quote on delivery times to ensure you stick to the project plan.

The relationship between you and your suppliers should be smooth and efficient. Use these questions to ensure that all basis are covered, and you can work together effectively. Thanks for reading, folks. Until next time!