Supplier Selection: Finding Your Source Of Uniforms & Gear
Client prospects everywhere, but nothing you can sell? This is a common dilemma for new uniform companies. Such startups wisely focus on assessing the market and identifying customer prospects at the very beginning. But once they’re done with that, they often realize that they don’t actually have any gear to sell to these prospects. Getting ahold of that gear quickly is essential, lest someone else capture the business of the clients you plan to target. But you also need to take the time to assess potential suppliers, making sure they offer fair prices and quality gear. To do this, you must:
Surmise All Suppliers
There are hundreds of uniform suppliers you can create accounts with. Some of these companies specialize in making certain types of uniforms, while others manufacture a broad selection of gear on a large scale. Your first step in selecting a supplier should be to list all such companies that are active in your area and that provide the uniforms you need. Consider whether you’ll be able to get everything from a single source or will need to purchase from multiple suppliers. You should also see whether any of these companies has a minimum purchase volume, and if so, assess whether you can reasonably order at that volume from the start. The more you know about all your supplier options, the easier it is to narrow them down.
Once you know all the suppliers in your area, take a look at the uniformed employees at businesses in your area. Get a sense of whether there are any particular features that local businesses value in their gear. For example, it may be that certain brands of uniforms are popular in your area; if so, you may want to offer uniforms from that brand, or at least provide some that you can credibly claim are equally valuable. Likewise, if you live in an especially hot or cold climate, local employees likely wear uniforms that help them stay comfortable under those conditions. Make sure the suppliers you’re considering offer gear that provides similar comfort.
Select the Supplier
Once you have all this information, it’s time to make a selection. The specific criteria you use to pick a supplier will vary based on what you’re selling and whom you’re selling it to. But in general, you should choose someone who offers you as much flexibility as possible. Ideally, you should not need to invest in a large amount of inventory upfront, as this can make it hard to change suppliers if clients don’t like the uniforms. Your supplier should also be willing to provide gear at high volume as needed, and should accommodate customized changes to the uniforms. Once you’re sure the supplier meets these criteria and has what you need, you can become their affiliated partner and begin selling.