You know that moment when you’re once again telling your food vendor that you “only want the Kombucha with the chia seeds?” It’s probably the 9th time you’ve said it. You’ve called them, you’ve emailed them, you’ve stood in the kitchen waving your hands in frustration at them… You might even be invoiced for them. But alas, you’ve never gotten them.
Yeah. I know that moment too. I think we all do. This situation comes up with all vendors, not just food. Why do we put up with it? Is it because we don’t know that we have other options? Or because we’re too busy to take on the project? Are we living with an “it works for now” mentality? Maybe it’s because every vendor that comes in to pitch us does nothing but dizzy us with buzzwords:
“We’ll integrate your orders”
“There’s employee participation/voting ability”
“The top startups use us so should you”
“We’re the industry leaders”
“We’re backed by the top investors”
“Streamline the order process”
“It’s a no-brainer, we raised a gazillion dollars”
“We were written up on TechCrunch, Business Insider, and Huffington Post”
So what’s the solution? These five steps will help you figure out exactly what you need to do, and how to make it happen:
1. Clearly define your budget
- If you’re getting a lump sum from your finance team I suggest you break it out per person to better understand how the value will be spread throughout all divisions of the company. Plus, pitching a smaller dollar amount to your boss is always easier.
- If budget is the only reason you’re considering moving away from your current vendor, don’t be afraid to tell them. They might surprise you and be willing to negotiate pricing to keep you as a customer.
- Be sure to do your due diligence and take into consideration the cost of switching vendors. Are you going to have to get new equipment? Are there unforeseen taxes and/or fees? Make sure the startup costs of signing with a new vendor are carefully reviewed and factored in the decision making process.
2. Decide what you and your company really need/want
- Is coffee more important than beer?
- Do you need every snack under the sun?
- When someone spills soda on the printer, causing a permanent jam, is someone going to come fix it? What types of incidents do you need covered in your service contract?
- Do you want it all on your corporate credit card or direct billed?
- Do you want to just order online without talking to a rep at all?
- Do you just need someone to show up once a week and water/dust your plants?
3. Figure out what you need to change
- This doesn’t work if you just switch to the same company with a different name. This is like dating, eventually you need to realize your “type” needs to be redefined.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What do you like & dislike about your current vendor? (Cost? Quality of goods and/or services?)
- Is the issue with your company rep? Or with the company as a whole?
- Is there a way to salvage the business relationship through constructive feedback or do you really need to move on?
- Can this new vendor scale with you as your company grows?
- What are your expectations for the new vendor?
4. ASK people for advice
- Do your research and read reviews
- Ask the vendor for references that you can personally call or email.
- Inquire about a “no strings attached” trial period where you can test a new product or services.
- Utilize services where you can talk to other people that have gone through, or are going through the same thing. OfficeNinjas now has a marketplace where you can do just that!
5. Make the change
- It’s polite to give the vendor 30 days notice.
- But you can always give them the old “it’s not you, it’s me”
- “We’ve decided to go in a different direction”
- “Our budget is currently in transition…”
- “We’re now going to be sourcing all meals in-house”
And when in doubt, you can pull a Chandler (not necessarily recommended).
Breaking up sucks for everyone, but armed with the right tools this doesn’t have to be the hardest breakup you’ll ever have. You know you (and your company) deserve better; it’s time to admit that it’s them, not you, and switch vendors and find one that best fits your needs. One that helps you accomplish your goals (without giving you the extra headaches).
What tips do you have for finding a new vendor and moving on from the old one?