One of the keys to business success is working with “five star” providers, that are reliable, compliant, innovative, versatile and maintain a balanced relationship between the service they offer and the price they charge for it.

In the business world, consensus in this regard is as strong as a good diamond and has the same shine. Working with the best suppliers is one of the objectives most pursued by companies, as they know that their success or failure may depend on it.

Now, it is one thing to know what to aspire to and quite another to achieve it. The process of finding and fostering relationships with “five-star” suppliers is not available to everyone, nor is their management.

A supplier is more than just a procurer of goods and, yes, that “more” is a euphemism that replaces the real function of a “five star” supplier: that of a strategic partner of the company, even if not on the organisation chart. And they have to be taken care of.

And something that a head of the purchasing department of a DIY store knows, or definitely should know is learning as the company increases its volume, because suppliers can play a vital role in business growth or equally they can be a stumbling block to business growth.

In any case, it is clear that training is an indispensable tool for learning, first hand, how to manage a correct and fruitful supplier portfolio that will not have too many or too few suppliers, but only the necessary ones.

And with that we get to the heart of the matter at hand. How many decorative fitting suppliers do we have to work with to achieve the desired performance?

And with one question comes another: How does the purchasing manager of a DIY store select and manage his decorative hardware suppliers so that they all work in harmony? What criteria guide your decisions?

With the introduction out of the way, let’s get straight to the point, to the big question, the one that can really influence the operation of your purchasing department: Do you work with too many decorative hardware suppliers?

There are several ways to answer this question and one of them, which we have chosen because of its dynamic, personalised and revealing nature, is the test.

A yes or no is not enough, try it, you’ll be surprised. The information that may be most relevant is in the nuances.

Do you have a few minutes?

You can take it as a light hobby, but we’ll warn you that you’ll get hooked and you’ll learn a lot of things about the way you work and how to improve management, which is sure to boost the benefits that you can reap.

Let’s go!

Find a quiet time and a comfortable place.

Put your supplier portfolio in the forefront of your mind, we’re going to catalogue it and it’s going to feel almost unintentional.

1.- What criteria do you use to locate and contact decorative hardware suppliers? Reputation? Offers on new products? Guarantee of prompt delivery?

2.- How much does the fear of not having access to the latest developments in the decorative hardware sector weigh on the contract with a supplier?

3.- How do you manage your suppliers, the old fashioned way or by applying technological resources?

4.- How many times a year do you need to contact each of them? Is it enough times to maintain a productive relationship?

5.- Which suppliers are developing products that create a buzz amongst your loyal customers and attract potential new customers?

6.- Which of your suppliers provide you with display material that helps promote the product at the point of sale? E.g. brochures, displays, posters, displays, sample products, settings, etc.

7.- Do you have a customised contract for each of your suppliers that precisely fit the characteristics of their product and service? And, if so. Does it give you time to keep in touch with them?

8.- Do you think that maintaining a fluid relationship with suppliers facilitates work in both directions and benefits the customer and the company?

9.- In what order would you place these concepts when filtering through for a “five star” supplier? Extent of the product range – Own manufacture – Price – Quality – Payment terms – Distribution terms – Transport and delivery – After sales service – Reputation – Business situation.

10.- Do you have a plan B in case a provider fails? Do you have a back-up replacement?

As you can see, these are simple questions that will probably have made you, at least once, sift through your portfolio of clients, that being the point of the exercise.

Providing a general solution to this test goes against its very nature because it is a personalised test but, needless to say, you, as a DIY store purchasing manager, will already have an idea of whether you are working with too many decorative fitting suppliers, because of the fear of not being up to date or of suppliers failing or of the goods not arriving on time or being damaged, or of not having the one everyone is talking about in your portfolio… Whatever reason it may be.

Fears are fought with knowledge, strategy and common sense.

You’ve probably already realised that it’s better to spend time planning a tight but manageable “five star” portfolio that you can control. It’s a matter of filtering.

Because, otherwise, if there is no filter, the portfolio becomes overfilled and that same portfolio will become cluttered, overgrown and will be so unmanageable that the excessive flow of suppliers will hinder your management capacities and will unbalance, perhaps irreversibly, the supply of decorative fittings to your company.