On Finding Suppliers

Starting a business based on assembling a set of supplies to create one product, one must look for the best quality raw materials for the best price. This is true for any business of the sort unless you really want to make cheap products. In the case of our new Geek Gear clothing line, I didn’t want to see customers come back 3 days later because the print faded or the material got torn. We acquired the best equipment and the best tshirt supply we could find to improve the quality of our product (with the hope of someday we can bring this to more geeks in desperate need of apparel – hehe). Over the years I’ve learned a few things that have proven useful in looking for suppliers and I share them with you here in no particular order.

First and foremost is not to believe the hype of sales people. They can be informative once in a while but most of them will tell you the quality is good compared to others. However, on closer observation they’re not. Always check and double check. When it comes to sales people, NEVER take their word for it. It may sound bad but always assume that there are no honest salesmen.

Second, never settle. Ask around. When one supplier gives you a seemingly good offer, go around the block and look for others. It’s a bit devious but make them fight over you. Show the other guy how much the other guy is charging. This way you can lobby for a better price and better materials. The phrase “kahit itanong mo pa sa iba” has been used by sellers time and time again and how many times have we “tanong sa iba?” I bet we don’t ask around as often.

Third is research. Always know what you want to get, its variations, their costs and how much is the standard price on retail and wholesale. Sabi nga sa G.I. Joe, knowing is half the battle. Without the intelligence, you’re walking in blind.

Last and this one I picked up from Donald Trump: “Always deal with the boss.” Middlemen and sales people are not decision makers. They can offer you only as much but if you look for the boss and deal directly with him, you can negotiate better prices far easier than with the person on the front desk. These people are gatekeepers and follow policy. The boss however dictates his/her own policy which makes him able to provide you with better deals.