I hope that you have enjoyed the article “Doing Better Business With Small Suppliers.”

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Here, where I have a little more space, I’d like to further encourage you to utilize the free services offered by the Better Business Bureau. Specifically, if you have a problem with a supplier that negotiation alone cannot resolve, file a complaint with the BBB.

You see, as I explained in the accompanying podcast, when consumers have a bad experience with a business, they have many outlets for sharing that information with other consumers. Whether it be ranting to their friends about a bad experience, writing a review on a Web site like Planet Feedback, or blogging, there are few barriers to a consumer sharing his or her views and other consumers benefitting from hearing about those experiences.

Of course, in the B2B world, it’s a little different.

Purchasing professionals generally don’t talk about their bad suppliers with buyers in other companies the same way that consumers do. Purchasing professionals don’t blog about their bad supplier experiences for fear of embarrassing their companies.

So there isn’t a perfect way of learning about real-world supplier performance issues.

However, the BBB offers a way to engage in a type of online, social information sharing. You can look up a prospective supplier on the BBB’s site, see whether they have a history of complaints and whether they respond to those complaints. Just one unresolved complaint gets that supplier an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB.

But you won’t have that information available unless purchasing professionals participate. You benefit when others share their experiences, so you need to “pay it forward” and share yours through filing a complaint when necessary.

As an example, if you go here, you can see that this supplier had a number of complaints filed against it and responded to none of them. Would you do business with that supplier?

So anytime you have to do business with a new supplier, I recommend taking 5 to 10 seconds to check out their rating on the BBB’s site. It can introduce a red flag that saves you from a painful experience.

As I mentioned in the article, I am shocked when purchasing professionals place orders – regardless of the value – with new suppliers without taking just a few seconds to search for historical information about that supplier’s performance.

Remember this: small orders can cause big problems.

Don’t pretend that you’re too busy to take the steps necessary to avoid the problems that are lurking. Believe me – if those problems occur, you’ll be spending much more time solving them.

Oh, and filing a complaint isn’t just for making information available.

It essentially gives you more leverage in resolving that complaint – not many suppliers want to have a publicly known unsatisfactory rating, so there is extra incentive for the supplier to work towards a resolution. The BBB will be a third party on your side to help show that you are serious about resolving your dispute.

And who couldn’t use a little more leverage now and then?


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