Partners — Not Adversaries

Continuing my rant on the difficulties in getting quotes…

Not all the blame should go to the manufacturing company when quotes are late. Part of the trouble is the inability of the parties involved to get past the outmoded notion that getting quotes is an adversarial arrangement. As I used to explain to seven-year-old soccer players, without them there is no game. Or in the case of buyers and suppliers — there is no product.

For buyers, this means giving ample lead time for the supplier to prepare an accurate cost estimate. It means providing cost targets when asked. It means being open to suggestions on redesigns to lower costs. It means giving honest feedback when the order is placed or the project went to another firm.

It takes resources to prepare quotes and when you only convert one in eight, or one in ten, securing actual orders can get discouraging. Good feedback helps suppliers to improve their quote process and better understand the market. The opportunity to see what competitors bid — names are not needed — can assist in determining whether this particular market is for you or whether your technology has to change to compete.

No one benefits from the obsolete strategy of fishing for low prices to make a one-time profit. The supplier base is shrinking and “sticking” someone with a too-low bid won’t make your next quote any more competitive; it is only logical for suppliers to want to make up any loss on the next purchase order.

It comes down to another lesson from primary school, i.e. — The Golden Rule. Treat suppliers as you would like to be treated. Communicate openly, make certain that questions are answered promptly and give the relationship time to develop.

Preparing quotes is never fun, but you never really know which ones will turn into great projects. Cooperation can make it easier for all involved.

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.