Coming Up With New Ways Of Supplier Evaluation

February 27, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Years ago, I was working with a multi-disciplinary team for a major global player, where we were developing a Global Supplier Management approach. On this team, I had the pleasure of working with an elderly gentleman, a real professional from the Purchasing function. He was a staunch and wise man, someone who had seen a lot and done a lot over the years, a pragmatist. Shortly before his retirement, this gentleman was indeed one of a kind and a valuable member of the team.

I will never forget one hot afternoon in a stuffy office. We were battling our way through different approaches we could take in order to evaluate our suppliers. Process Audits, Self-assessments, their customer audit evaluations, Environmental audits, etc. We were trying to work out an all-encompassing, yet somehow simple method of ranking these companies. Moodys, Standard & Poors methods were bandied about. The pressure was on.

My old gentleman leaned back, rubbed his tummy and declared: “I don’t need any of these!” As leader of the team, I felt the tension rising. “So” I asked” Why not?”

“For me” he said, “two things count when I visit a company and I know how the lie of the land is within that company”.

“Oh?” I replied, “And they would be?”

“Well, firstly, when I arrive, I check out the parking facilities. Do I as a customer have a special parking space? How much does this company consider the needs of me, their customer?”

“I also look to see how the parking spaces of the employees are arranged. If there are beautiful, clean and heavily signed parking spaces for top management and employees are expected to park 2 miles away in a pot-holed and poorly lit, well segregated parking space, I know how the employees are regarded by management. I knew what awaited me when I went to the factory floor. This is always reflected in the quality of the product.”

“Secondly”, he said “I see how I am welcomed”

“If there is a welcoming board with my name on it, if there is a nice clean waiting area and if someone comes promptly to greet me, then I know. In this company, I am, as a customer, seen as a priority – as are my needs.

“If, on the other hand, a poorly lit entrance awaits me, if I’m left waiting, people walk by and no-one seems to care who I am or why I am there….I leave”. (And with him the purchasing power of a huge multi-national).

I have never forgotten his words and sure enough, every time I visit a company these are the first things I check. It always makes me smile how right he was.

When is the last time you checked your business for how the customer sees it? How do you treat your staff and how do your staff treat customers when they arrive? What is your customer’s experience with your business? Walk the talk!

Might be worth considering before you too, lose your customers before they ever even arrive!

Martha K Begley, Galway, Ireland

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