Print buyers: how to get better communication from your suppliers

Are you fed up of receiving unwanted calls from print suppliers?
Do you wish print sales people had something other to do than pester you?
Do you feel that there is no need to be told about every development with your job?

Or do you wish that your printer spoke to you more frequently?
Do you wish that you knew what was going on with your job?
And do you feel that your supplier should tell you more about new print developments?

Whichever way you feel, communication from printers is becoming a hot topic.  I read an interesting article by Deborah Corn of PrintMediaCentr recently.  In the article she outlined exactly how she wanted new suppliers to communicate with her.  The article is great feedback for print suppliers.  It tells them exactly what they need to do to communicate effectively with Deborah.

Do you tell your print suppliers how to communicate with you?

Printer phoning customer

Is your print supplier communicating with you in the waythat you want?

Print Buyers who give their suppliers communication guidelines are usually more effective buyers.  They show their printers that they are in control of their suppliers.  They create relationships that work for them.  And they don’t have to deal with lots of unwanted communication.  Or chase communication that was expected but not received.  They have time to achieve more.

But print buyers who don’t give their suppliers communication guidelines achieve less.  They waste time with incorrect communication.  They have frustrating relationships because their suppliers aren’t communicating as wanted.  They are not in control of their suppliers.

So how do you tell your suppliers how to communicate with you?

I used to get about twenty suppliers contacting me every week.  There wasn’t time to deal with lots of lengthy calls.  Suppliers were simply told when I was next running a tender relevant to them.  Then I told them to e-mail me at that time (it was surprising how few managed this!).

  • If I am working with suppliers I have a clear set of guidelines:
  • If I e-mail you with information, acknowledge the message swiftly so I know you are acting on it
  • Don’t give me courtesy calls or e-mails
  • Don’t offer me lunch
  • Don’t ask for job feedback
  • If there is a problem with a job ring me now.  And have some solutions ready
  • Don’t confirm delivery is on time unless specifically requested
  • If there is any potential issue with a delivery, ring me as soon as you know.  Ring me even if you don’t have a solution yet
  • If you have suggestions for reducing costs or being more efficient, e-mail me
  • If you have something new to show me, e-mail me
  • If you need a meeting, e-mail me and tell me why

I explain these rules verbally to suppliers.  However, you may want to give your guidelines in writing.  Once suppliers understand these rules, I have an awful lot more time to work with!

Be realistic in what you expect from your suppliers

Some print buyers expect communication virtually every day.  They are asking suppliers to commit an awful lot of resource to them.  If you only have a few jobs understand that a supplier cannot give you the same level of service as they would to a client who places several jobs a week.

And don’t forget to tell suppliers when you plan to communicate

I have recently tendered for some procurement consultancy.  The company running the tender has not said when they will respond.  Therefore I am chasing them on a regular basis.

The company would have been better to tell me when they were making a decision.  This would have saved an awful lot of communication between us!

But shouldn’t good suppliers know how to communicate?

Every print buyer wants different levels of communication.  It is impossible for a supplier to guess what a buyer wants.  It is down to the buyer to set the ground rules for the right level of communication.

So get your supplier communication right today:

  • Write down your communication rules
  • Send the rules to your current suppliers
  • Remind any suppliers who don’t keep to them

Be as clear as Deborah Corn

Make sure your suppliers know exactly what you want.  Then you won’t be suffering from unwanted phone calls.  And you won’t be suffering from a lack of information about your job.


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

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