December '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 103 of 118

20 1 4 D EC E M B E R PRINTWEAR | 99 But not everything is negotiable. You can always ask for a deal, just as your customers do, but the supplier may have offered a fair, honest price from the start. Suppliers often quote the best deal the first time around, especially as more industries are moving toward the fair-pricing model. LET'S NEGOTIATE So how do we gauge when to negotiate a deal? The key is to gain the best understand- ing of the product and what the supplier has to offer. Do your research, talk to your ven- dors, ask questions, and show your intent as a serious buyer. Understand the motivations of both you and your suppliers. Why do you want a better deal? Maybe you want to offer your customers a lower price or need to in- crease your margins and profitability. Your suppliers are in business for profit just like you and face the same challenges. A supplier needs to manage its inventory, maintain quality control, and offer a fair price—all while still making money. Draw a line where both sides share in the winning deal. To start, never call your salesperson and say, "You need to give me a better deal." This makes your negotiation a battle. Now it's you versus the supplier in a swordfight of words. You take the first jab; the supplier dodges and counters. Both sides are now on the offensive, and there's no benefit to the business relationship. Instead, be honest. Try saying, "My com- petition is growing locally, and I'm having a tough time competing. I'm going through my books to find how I can shave down costs and would like to see if we can work out a deal." When you start the conversation this way, it's no longer a battle but a friendly business conversation. You've explained your situ- ation and asked to negotiate a better deal. Most importantly, you asked how "we" can work on it. This tactic often leads to nego- tiating the best deal and improves your ven- dor relationship.

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