Satisfying your customers’ needs is at the top of your list, but does your sheet metal supplier think the same way? If your supplier doesn’t have the same priorities as you, it could be time to take a step back and re-evaluate who you’re getting your sheet metal from. When seeking out a sheet metal supplier that will exceed your performance expectations, there are several factors that you need to take into consideration. So what exactly makes a quality sheet metal supplier? Keep reading to learn what to look for and how to determine if your supplier is right for you.
1. Are you receiving quality parts? It almost goes without saying, but quality should be at the top your list. If you can’t count on quality parts coming in from your sheet metal supplier, it’s time to find a new one that will surpass your quality test. Your customers don’t tolerate poor quality and you can’t either from your sheet metal supplier. Period. Find a supplier that takes quality just as serious as you do and you won’t have to worry about lousy parts coming through your shop.
2. Are you confident your parts will be there when you need them? While speed is important, the real key is to look for suppliers that hit the dates they commit to. This means that at times you want your supplier to push back on your due dates when they cannot meet the due date. Having that openness and trust is at the heart of any good supplier – customer relationship. The question you need to be asking isn’t ‘how quickly can you get it to me?’ but rather, ‘how confident are you that I will receive my parts when you say I will?’ The certainty that a stronger supplier provides to your supply chain beats aggressive promises and missed deliveries. It also helps if your sheet metal supplier has their own delivery trucks. This means you avoid costly, time-consuming product damages as well as shipping costs by avoiding 3rd party freight companies. A quality sheet metal supplier will be honest about dates and work with you to ensure your parts are not only delivered on the promised date, but the parts are also arriving to you in the same condition they left the shop in.
3. What is the reputation of your supplier? How long has your sheet metal supplier been in business? While the two are not necessarily related, there is a solid correlation between longevity and capacity. There is truth in the axiom that ‘we’ve been around this long so we must be doing something right’, but that only goes so far. Is your sheet metal supplier modernizing their systems and equipment? Are they keeping up with the latest technology and investing in their team? Suppliers that stay ahead of the game and continue to stay true to their values are key attributes you want to look for. These are all signs of health you want to look for in your sheet metal supplier. It also can’t hurt to ask around and listen to others’ opinions. You can find out a lot about the quality of a supplier by what other customers say.
4. Are you being provided with the best possible price and value? Are you getting competitive pricing? Double check that your supplier is providing you with satisfactory pricing. If they’re not, push to understand what the underlying cause is. Maybe there is a design-for-manufacturing conversation that needs to take place, or there needs to be a clearer picture of the purchasing forecast anticipated over the next few quarters. The number at the bottom of the quote is not the whole story, but you need to see pricing that will work for your business and allow you to provide excellent value to your customers.
5. Is your supplier responsive and readily available for you? When you call or email your supplier, how long does it take for them to get back to you? What is the quality of that communication? Are you constantly calling and not receiving the information you need? Communication lines should go both ways, meaning your supplier should be calling you just as often as you call them to touch base. Working with global customers and compressed lead-times, being able to manage changing customer demands is an important part of your business. Make sure you partner with a sheet metal supplier that is able to keep up with the dynamic nature of your needs and work alongside you to help you satisfy your customers.
6. Is your supplier willing to take on challenges? A true partnership requires both trust and the ability to take risks. Does your sheet metal supplier shy away from a challenge? Growing your business means incorporating new materials or technologies that allow you to out-compete your competition. Find a supplier that is willing to take risks just as often as you are.
7. Does your supplier take responsibility for their mistakes? Accountability is the foundation of trust and trust underpins every strong supplier/customer relationship. When things don’t go as planned, does your sheet metal supplier take responsibility and work to improve for the future? If not, you need to find a new sheet metal supplier.