Tips for Shopping for New Vendors

November 09, 2023

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, it is time for small business owners to reflect on the year that has just passed. Part of doing so is evaluating all the vendors they used to determine their level of satisfaction with them while also making note of how much they paid them.

These vendors can be anything from payroll service providers to health or business insurance to cleaning companies. They are any services the businesses rely on during the year to operate smoothly and successfully. 

However, small business owners need to be cautious when doing so. They should not just assume they will be able to find cheaper vendors, as the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Therefore, small business owners should develop a list of questions to ask when getting quotes and evaluating if they should select new vendors. Here are a few questions that you may want to consider asking.

Here are 6 questions small business owners should prepare to ask when shopping for vendors:

1. What is the complete array of services you offer?

When small business owners are contacting new vendors to receive quotes, they should be sure to ask about the full scope of services they provide. Furthermore, they need to pinpoint exactly what services are included in the quote they are receiving. Doing so will ensure small business owners are not expecting to receive a service they are not actually paying for, not paying for more services than they actually wanted, or wasting money buying duplicate services from other vendors. 

2. What perks do you offer?

Small business owners should also be prepared to ask vendors they hope to potentially hire about the perks they offer to customers. This may be loyalty rewards, holiday discounts, or exclusive service add-ons. Doing so will help them understand if the vendors are committed to retaining customers and keeping their current customers happy. If they offer perks to loyal customers, it is likely they will be dedicated to helping ensure their businesses continue to run smoothly.

3. How do you handle customer service issues or customer emergencies?

Another question small business owners must be sure to ask potential vendors is how they handle customer-related problems. They will want to know when they can contact their customer service department and receive a response. They may want to even ask if this service is available 24/7. Furthermore, small business owners will want to ask vendors how they will work with them if they need their services unexpectedly. For example, if the vendor provides cleaning services to a small business and it was broken into and trashed, would they work with the business to come in and clean up right away even if it was outside of their usual scheduled cleaning? Vendors who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure their clients have the products and services they need may be worth a few extra dollars than their cheaper, less attentive counterparts.

4. What makes you unique from your competitors?

Small business owners will also find it beneficial to ask vendors to describe what makes them unique from their competitors. They may do this by asking them what are their unique selling points and what are the benefits of choosing them over their counterparts. Vendors should be able to clearly and simply articulate what makes them unique as well as why a small business owner would want to choose them. If they cannot do so, it is likely they may not possess many benefits that differentiate them from their competitors. This means small business owners may want to look elsewhere for vendors who clearly can.  

5. Do you have experience working with small businesses?

This is perhaps the most important question small business owners can ask potential vendors. Since small businesses require a level of care and service that larger businesses do not, knowing whether or not a vendor has experience in this area is immensely telling. If vendors are used to working with bigger clients, they may not understand the unique needs of small businesses and fail to appropriately fulfill them. However, if vendors do have experience working with small businesses, they will likely provide satisfactory service as they understand the minute needs of these establishments.

6. How does your pricing compare to your competitors’ pricing?

Lastly, small business owners will find it beneficial to ask potential vendors not only what their pricing is but also have them describe if it is higher or lower in relation to their competitors’ prices. This will allow the vendors to explain why their pricing may be higher or lower. These reasons may be explained by whether they include or omit additional services, their employees go through more rigorous training, or the quality of their products and services is higher than their competitors. Whatever the reason may be, asking this question will allow small business owners to get a better understanding of whether the prices the vendors are asking for are fair.

Shopping for vendors can be a time-consuming process. However, when small business owners have a clear list of questions to ask every vendor, they will be able to more easily determine which are the best for them. Yet, small business owners should remember it is okay to stay with the vendors they currently have if they are satisfied with their service. Looking for a new vendor just to get a slightly cheaper price may lead them to experience a decrease in the quality of service provided. Therefore, small business owners must ensure they feel confident about the vendors they choose to hire and ensure they have the best interest of their businesses at heart.

PaySmart is a payroll provider located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, supporting small

businesses in the Central PA region. We are dedicated to helping small businesses take care of their payroll needs. To learn more information about how PaySmart may provide payroll solutions, please get in touch with us at 717-766-1777. Our New Client Concierge is waiting for you!