The Top 5 Questions to Ask When Comparing Decorative Concrete SuppliersJun 05, 2023
Are you looking to break into the lucrative world of decorative concrete? Finding the right supplier is essential to your success, and asking the right questions will put you on the right path.
Today I'll share the five critical questions you need to ask potential product suppliers before partnering with them. Be sure to stick around to the end because although these are my top five questions, I have three bonus questions for you to consider.
HOW WILL I KNOW IF THE SUPPLIER IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Partnering with a quality manufacturer and product supplier for your decorative concrete products and tools is crucial for your business. It can directly impact your reputation, bottom line, and customer satisfaction.
Therefore, it's essential to partner with a supplier that can provide superior products and ongoing training and support.
So how can you determine which supplier is right for you? Interview them!
TOP FIVE QUESTIONS TO ASK
When interviewing potential suppliers, there are several critical questions you should ask to ensure that you make the right choice for your business.
Question #1: Do you have a full product line, or will I need multiple relationships to present a complete product offering to my customers?
The warning lies within the question. If your preferred supplier doesn't offer a full product line, then you will need multiple relationships to provide the products you need for what you are offering your customers.
For example, if the vendor you are interviewing is primarily an epoxy manufacturer, but you’re going to be offering overlays as well, you would have to go out and find another vendor to provide those materials.
This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it could change your cost of doing business.
Question #2: What is your pricing structure? Does it change with volumes?
If you’re ordering in bulk and getting discounts for it, you can pass on those savings to your customers or just let it pad your bottom line. If you can’t get volume discounts, you would need to know that and price your offerings accordingly.
In my relationship with my manufacturer, our discounts are based on volume from the previous year. So I got better pricing for the year AFTER I met their specific levels.
Some suppliers will offer volume discounts on each order. Meaning if you can get your order up to that level, you would qualify for their discounts or free shipping, etc.
And if you think a 12% volume discount isn't that big of a deal, if you order 100,000 a year in product and can secure a 12% discount because of volume, that’s a $12,000 impact to your business.
Question #3: Are there regional limits for my marketing efforts? Are there geographic boundaries that I have to follow?
Some suppliers are completely open, and you can market in any way and anywhere you want. Others may offer you a limited territory which means you have to know where you can market. But depending on the agreement, you might get an exclusive market or territory and won’t be competing with other professionals representing the same supplier in your area.
This question is especially important if you ever plan to expand your business to other regions. You need to understand if there are any restrictions and how they can affect your business operations.
Pro Tip: You'll want to set your own limits for the size of the geographical area you want to market to. After all, you don't want to spend more time on the road than you need to.
We actually made the geographical area one of the key questions we ask over the phone to prospective customers in the post "Increase Sales by Asking the Right Questions at the Right Time."
Question #4: What do you offer in the area of training? Are there In person, face-to-face options, mentor relationships, websites, apps, and product sheets?
Training is another critical aspect to consider when choosing a supplier.
The more training options available, the better prepared you will be to promote and sell the products effectively.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having a relationship and a contact to rely on to get started in decorative concrete. You’re going to have things that come up, and you’ll need resources.
On the technical side, your best resource will be your supplier. They can help you choose the right product or application. They can guide you through unique applications and may even offer face-to-face training to show you how to install decorative concrete.
On the business side, we'd love to be your trusted resource. Decorative Concrete Engine can offer assistance through coaching calls or our flagship course that offers a Step-by-Step System for Launching Your Decorative Concrete Business.
Question #5: What are the costs associated with the distribution of the products I need? Where is my nearest distributor? What are the shipping costs involved? Is there a timeline for receiving the product?
These details can help you estimate the costs and timelines involved in the product supply chain.
Do you need to order weeks in advance to save on expedited shipping?
Are the supplies you need available for pick up locally? If so, what does the local supplier stock so that you can understand what you can offer or install in the timeline needed to do so?
For instance, my distributor is not local, so I have to factor in ordering enough to justify the shipping costs of buying in bulk. Then, I have to order with enough lead time to get the product on hand in order to do the installation. This means thinking ahead weeks in advance.
If you stick with these five questions, you will be well on your way to evaluating which supplier is right for you.
BUT THERE'S MORE
As promised, I have three more questions I want you to consider.
Bonus question #1: Can you send me references or testimonials from previous customers or dealers?
These references can provide valuable insights into the manufacturer's reputation, reliability, and customer service. You want to get a true snapshot of someone who has boots on the ground dealing with this supplier on a regular basis so you can truly evaluate your options.
Bonus question #2: What is your business model? Are you a private labeler, proprietary product manufacturer, distributor of other manufacturers, or a combination of these?
A private labeler is someone who is marketing a product in their name that is manufactured by someone else. The caution here is they may not have control over product availability or product development.
A proprietary product manufacturer owns the formula and product development. They normally control the supply chain and product development. But even with proprietary products, they may outsource the manufacturing.
A distributor of other manufacturers is basically just a reseller, so they have little control over product cost, product development, or supply chains.
One detail that isn't necessarily good or bad, just important to understand, is that resellers and private labelers have little control over the product lines. So you may fall in love with a product that may not be available six months from now because the manufacturer removes it from their product offering.
Finally, if you prioritize eco-friendliness and sustainability, ask the manufacturer this final bonus question.
Bonus question #3: Do you offer any eco-friendly or sustainable decorative concrete options?
This information can help you align your business values with your product offerings. But beyond business values, your state may have specific restrictions that require higher standards in these areas.
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT
My top five questions to ask a potential product supplier as you launch your decorative concrete business. AND three additional questions to help bring clarity to your decision.
Partnering with the right supplier can help your business grow, expand, and thrive. Therefore, invest time and effort in interviewing potential vendors and asking the right questions to make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals and values.
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