Give your supplier a Huge challenge

Challenge your print supplier to improve your supply chain so you in turn can improve your product.

I am always impressed at my four-year old daughter’s imagination.



She has a set of old plastic bottles. These bottles are put to many uses. This morning the bottles were a range of products in her shop. Soon after, the bottles became a set of medicines to cure me when we were playing doctors and nurses. And, finally, the bottles were used as a set of ingredients when my daughter cooked a meal for her dolls and teddy bears.




Do you sometimes wish print suppliers were as creative as this?



But creativity doesn’t always come automatically. Sometimes you need to challenge people to be creative. So that’s why it’s good to issue your print suppliers with the Supplier Challenge.

The Supplier Challenge is a great way to solve your problems.



The Supplier Challenge is a very simple process. Write down a short list of your current challenges. Then invite your print suppliers to a meeting and tell them what is bothering you. And together, you can see if you can find a way to fix these problems.


By using the Supplier Challenge, you will develop a deeper relationship with your suppliers. And at the same time you can use the print supplier’s expertise and creativity as well as your own. With help from your print supplier, you achieve more when you try to solve print problems. And you remain in control of your print buying.


If you don’t use this system you will find print buying more difficult. You will not have the same control over your print problems. These issues will become more time-consuming and you will achieve less. And you may not resolve issues so effectively because you did not solve them in partnership with your print company.

So what does your print company know that you don’t?



As an experienced print buyer I am frequently pleased at how my print suppliers can help me. Recently I talked to a supplier that was producing high value voucher books for me. I wanted the voucher books to have a security feature.


I thought I had already come up with a good security solution. But the print company managed to come up with three other solutions. Two solutions saved money, and one was far more effective. My client was delighted at the range of solutions that the print supplier and I were able to present.

What’s the best way to put the Supplier Challenge into practice?



Many people feel that a Supplier Challenge can be done by e-mail. However, it is far better to have a face to face conversation rather than e-mail. Talking creates a much more productive process because problems can be properly discussed. So it is better to ask print suppliers to come in to speak with you.


However, it is not productive to have a meeting with a supplier without giving them a hint of what you want to talk about. So when you ask the supplier in for the meeting, give them a list of your challenges. And ask them to have a think about the challenges before the meeting.


And the meeting is rarely the end of the process. After we have met, the supplier will usually need to provide you with prices and samples.

Here’s how a print supplier rose to my Supplier Challenge



I had already challenged the print supplier about the security of voucher books. However, the client was also facing problems with late delivery of the books. When the print supplier understood the extent of the delivery problems they changed the schedule. This allowed the voucher books to be ready for distribution one day earlier. The new timing meant that we could use cheaper distribution as well as making sure customers received the books on time.


Now we are using the Supplier Challenge to see if we can create more effective book formats together.

Here are three ways to get your own Supplier Challenge moving


– Write down the three biggest print challenges that you currently face

– Send these challenges to two of your main print suppliers

– Invite the print suppliers to come in and discuss them with you



And while you are talking together, why not see if there is anything that you can do to help your print supplier to be more efficient. After all, the most productive supplier relationships are two-way.

I like productive supplier relationships



These relationships make my job easier, and give me more time. So I can spend more time playing with my daughter.

================================================================


P.S. If you have found this article useful, you may also be interested in Print and Procurement’s supplier and client management workshops. Click here to find out more about our supplier management workshop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Free Buying Advice
Download the E book

Download "Ten Common Print Buying Errors and What To Do About Them" (worth £25/$41) absolutely free, and receive regular practical articles on print buying.

Client Testimonial

I have worked with Matthew for just over a year now and he has delivered a number of highly successful training events for the IPIA during that time. He is very organised and produces seminars which are full of

Read the testimonial from Andrew Pearce
Client Testimonial

Matthew provided an excellent “Print Processes” training session for myself and some of my colleagues.  The feature that I liked most about the training, was that the day itself was very interactive – which not only

Read the testimonial from Rhoda Day
Client Testimonial

If you think you are on top of your print buying you might be in for a surprise! We asked Print & Procurement to undertake a print audit. Matthew said ‘’If we do not find savings sufficient to earn back our fee

Read the testimonial from Rod Fletcher
Client Testimonial

Matthew is a consultant who is totally committed to his clients and to delivering on his promises.  He has an excellent understanding of both the challenges of the print channel and the opportunities it presents. As a

Read the full testimonial from Jacky Morgan
Client Testimonial

Apart from being a thoroughly decent chap Matthew is scrupulously professional, ruthlessly efficient and always delivers excellent results.
I genuinely have no hesitation whatever in recommending Matthew. He

Read the full testimonial from Simon Lewis
Client Testimonial

In an industry renowned for its pressure, Matthew Parker delivers a very gentle but insightful intelligence about the ways of print. Somewhere between art and science there is a place that defines the balance of what

Read the full testimonial from Andy Dowen
Recent Posts

Four ways automated print pricing can make a buyer’s life easier (and how to choose the right system)

Do you struggle to find enough hours in the day? Whether you’re a full-time purchaser or managing a more general administration role, the pressure on your [more]

Why beating printing companies down on price is not the best way to reduce costs

For me, few things are better than standing on the summit of a mountain The route up a mountain is hard.  There’s a lot of work [more]

Three reasons why print buyers should challenge supplier choice

My daughter was about to burst into tears I had asked her what flavor of ice cream she would like. She gave me the same answer [more]

Why print buyers who stick to cost-cutting are failing to do their job

Wouldn't a garden look bare without anything in the flowerbeds? My wife is a keen gardener. One of her most regular jobs is the weeding. It's [more]

Three specification questions that can reduce the cost of printed items by over 30%

The print industry is dying There are huge amounts of overcapacity. Printing companies are tendering suicidal prices. So all a print buyer has to do is to [more]

Three questions print buyers must use to challenge process and prevent 30-address syndrome

Can you imagine writing the same address over 30 times? Wouldn’t it be a complete waste of your time? Aren't there are so many better things [more]