Finding suppliers for your business is as important as running the business itself. You need suppliers who can give you exactly what you need, when you need it, and at the right price. According to Miraluz Tan, president of the Philippine Institute for Supply Management, and assistant vice president for purchasing at Nestle Philippines, suppliers either come to you or you go out looking for them. If you’re a start-up, it’s usually the second option.
She tells you where to look:
1. The yellow pages. The telephone book can be very helpful if you are in a hurry to find a supplier. The drawback is that you can’t compare prices.
2. Trade exhibits and bazaars. Attending exhibits and bazaars will give you the chance to meet suppliers and to get an idea how big your industry is.
3. Trade journals and directories. These are usually available at the foreign embassies, and they let you look for exporters or match your product or service with your foreign counterpart.
• Purchasing associations. There are several, but the Philippine Institute for Supply Management is the biggest. It counts 300 corporations as members.
4. Chambers of commerce. The various chambers of commerce can provide you with information on member companies that can supply your needs.
5. The Internet: The worldwide Web is a rich source of information on manufacturers, and they usually have a website uploaded or a web page that you can visit. However, avoid transacting business through the Internet because we still have no laws extending trade protection to cyberspace. Get the supplier’s contact information from the website, and then arrange a meeting with him.
6. Word-of-mouth. Ask around. People constantly give feedback on their purchases, and it’s your job as a buyer to be sensitive about what the consumers think and feel.
What to look for in a supplier
If Tan were to rank the factors affecting her decision on which suppliers to pick, technical ability and expertise would be top of the list. Service comes second, followed by price competitiveness. Price could be your top consideration if you were a start-up, but you should balance your search for the most competitive price with product quality.