18 Apr

How Do You Choose a Supplier Partner?

By Kevin Crimmins

How do you choose a supplier partner?

Having been in customer- or client-facing roles throughout my career, I’ve lost track of the number of times that I have been asked some version of “Why should we choose to work with you over your competitors?”

I always take this question seriously. For one thing, it rarely is asked until a potential customer is very close to a decision. The question also signals that the person asking it will not be basing their decision on a single factor, such as price.

So, why should they choose to work with us? What qualities should companies look for in a custom label supplier?

Price Is A Factor … But Where Does It Fit In?

Recently, a colleague shared with me a story. He had heard an entrepreneur commenting on whether it is wise to choose a service provider strictly on price. While price definitely is a factor in his decision-making, he emphasized that can’t be the only factor.

What struck me about the rest of the entrepreneur’s explanation is that his comments sounded like a condensed version of what I had tried to say all those countless times I had been asked, “Why should I choose you?”

He boiled it down to four simple points:

  • First, look for a supplier who is responsive. Do they answer your questions promptly?
  • Second, choose an organization that is reliable. Do they keep their commitments, not only in terms of what they will do, but also when they will do it?
  • Third, expect quality. Can this company meet our needs and expectations?
  • Fourth, according to this framework, is price.

Your answers will determine whether you wind up with a supplier partnership that’s productive, cooperative, and gives you exactly what you need. If you focus solely on price and don’t look at the other points, you can miss red flags and end up with headaches and/or inferior product that costs you more in the long run.


The Four Questions to Ask Us

By offering this easy and reliable way to assess a custom label vendor, I have to turn the mirror back on my own company, of course. If you were to ask those questions about The Label Printers, here’s what I would say:

  1. First, we are responsive. Our sales and service teams have a commitment to respond promptly to inquiries and requests the same business day whenever possible. We often surprise folks by how quickly we respond to an email or a web inquiry.

  2. Second, you can rely on us. We have specialized in labels for over fifty years. That means we are not only very good at making labels, but we’re also experts in the business of making labels. We spell everything out in writing before we ask you to commit. When we are not sure of something, we ask questions. We go out of our way to gain an understanding of our customers’ businesses and how they will use their labels. Doing so helps us to recognize potential issues that they might not even think of. It’s our job to be label experts, not yours. Rely on us for that.

  3. Third, we are committed to quality. We were the first label printer in Illinois to achieve ISO 9001 certification, and we have maintained that certification since 1994. We work with reputable material suppliers and stay abreast of developments in the marketplace to assure that we have access to the right materials to make the labels that you need. And when we make your labels, we make sure they’ll be ready to withstand the exposures you need them to withstand.

  4. Fourth, you always get a fair price from The Label Printers. We may not always be the lowest cost provider. We probably will not be the highest, either. In general, be careful comparing labels based on cost. If you tell me you can get the label we have quoted at a nickel for three cents elsewhere, you’ll probably hear me say that I could make a label for you for three cents, just not that And … there’s a real chance that the three-cent label will not perform the way you expect. There really is truth to the notion that you get what you pay for, especially in the world of labels.

There are other things to consider when choosing a custom label supplier, such as specialization (some types of labels you can only get from certain suppliers), the people you’ll be dealing with, and breadth of services.

In general, however, by asking these four questions, you’re setting yourself up to get the right label, headache-free, at a fair price.

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