Part 2: How to get the most out of your supplier?
With so many brands and partners, what can you expect from a supplier?
Read time 5 minutes: In a rapidly evolving market, choosing the right supplier is an important factor in being successful throughout the season.
In the current market many kite schools evaluate their suppliers every season. By doing so they have the freedom to choose from the best offers to enhance the success of their business. This freedom gives you the chance to benefit from customer service, competitive pricing, good margins and new products.
One of the topics of the survey was the question what school owners think is important in terms of service. The data gathered is quite telling. The blue line marks your expectations, in order of importance from left to right.
High expectations VS the real world
One thing clearly noticeable in the above graph is that most suppliers offer great payment terms and offer excellent one stop shopping. Yet they do not meet the service levels in the areas that schools find most important.
What is the most important?
As a school you want your operation to run as smooth as possible. You want to share your stoke with your students and earn a buck or two, instead of dealing with any hassle. Everything that can threat your day to day operation is a risk so it is no surprise that the research shows that ease of ordering, personal contact, after sales service and delivery times are the most important services schools expect from their suppliers.
Ease of ordering: See if you can have a sneak peek into the ordering process. Is it by mail, phone or is there an easy to use online ordering system in place? Indicate your needs and preferences and see if your supplier can provide.
Personal contact: Call them, email them and invite your contact person personally, find out how quick, good and knowledgeable he/she is. Are they only out to sell kites or are they actively thinking about what is best for you? Let them know what they can do to make your life easier, need a clinic about a new kite? Let ‘em know!
After sale service: Often the elephant in the room but it is best to discuss this before any issues occur. What are the possibilities? How are damaged kites dealt with? How easy is it to get spare parts? And most important; how easy is it to repair equipment / have it repaired?
Delivery time: As a rule of thumb; the less hands a parcel has to go through, the faster you receive your goods. Often there are warehouses spread across the continent or there is a central stock hub that ships directly. *Note, If your school is in a remote location (or on an island), deliveries will always take longer.
Biggest let downs
The biggest let-downs experienced are; inadequate after service, longer than expected delivery times, difficulties to order the right products and the lack of personal contact and test opportunities. It is not strange that these specific services are seen as the most important as they directly influence the school’s working.
Always be aware of the limitations of your supplier. If, for instance, you know it takes time to get equipment fixed or replaced, it would be wise to be prepared and have sufficient back up materials or spare parts. Working together with other schools in your area could also minimize any downtime as spare parts or even a spare/back-up kite can be shared.
“Luck isn’t with the dumb, luck is with those who are prepared”