The Perfect Match: Finding the Right Vendors for Your Surplus Operation

Everybody’s been there. There’s some work that needs to be done on your car, and the goal is to find a skilled mechanic who doesn’t specialize in price gouging. If you want to escape the overpriced dealership or the national retailer with a rep for poor customer service, legwork is required.

That legwork is different for all of us. Some might pose the mechanic question on social media, while others will turn to friends, family members and co-workers to generate a lead. In the niche market of surplus property management, managers don’t always have these options. After all, how many of your relatives are looking for a dependable hard-drive crusher?

Surplus managers are tasked with finding good vendors for jobs like shipping, live auctions, online auctions, recycling, cardboard bailing and moving precious metals. Finding the right fit is important for a position in which time and resources are short. Here are a few steps you can take in your search for a capable partner:

  1. Form an understanding of the job: Understanding the job is the first step to finding the right vendor. It’s helpful to take a couple of minutes to write down your expectations. What job needs to be done? How do you want it done? What’s the right price? Having a clear understanding of your expectations can help ensure you don’t lose sight of your goals as you go through the vendor selection process.
  1. Open the topic up for discussion: Conversation is key in finding a vendor that works for your business. Speak to trusted employees or other surplus managers who have an understanding of your business and the work that needs to be done. Expand your search by looking for a surplus-focused group (e.g. University Surplus Property Association, National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property) that can get you in touch with others in the industry. The more advice you can gather, the better!
  1. Sit down with your manager: Depending on your business, it may be necessary to take your vendor search up the ladder to your manager. Is there a policy in place for engaging in contracts with vendors? Are RFPs (Request for Proposal) required? Getting your manager involved early in the process is a good idea as he or she may play a significant role in vendor and budgetary approval.
  1. Talk to the procurement team: In the process of seeking out a third-party vendor, check with procurement to see which contracts are already on file. Leveraging contracts that are in place with your organization can speed up the selection and implementation process. For example, a university surplus manager looking for recycling services might be able to set up a good deal relatively quick if a quality recycling vendor is already working with another department on campus.
  1. Generate a list of possible vendors: Once you’ve outlined the job responsibilities and discussed the possibilities with some good sources, put together a list of vendors. Perform research – online, over the phone or in person – to help separate the contenders from the pretenders. It might be wise to find as many as five or six options to give you a lot to compare. In the same document where you listed the responsibilities of the job, jot down your list of contending vendors, their contact information and a suggested method of communication.
  1. Reach out to the best candidates: Set up initial phone conversations or in-person meetings to learn more about each vendor’s capabilities. Through this initial meeting, it’s possible to find out if the vendor can meet your specific needs and match your price point.
  1. Narrow down the list of competing vendors: After speaking with all of the vendors on your list, pick two or three favorites. Follow up with those vendors to address any other questions or concerns. If seeking a software solution, ask for a demonstration. Let the vendors know where you’re at in your decision process.
  1. Be sure to check vendor references: Ask the remaining parties to provide a list of comparable projects they’ve completed along with contact information for a reference check. Reach out to the references and try to speak to a person who worked with the vendor during implementation. Why did they select the vendor? How was the experience? Did any issues arise? How did the vendor deal with these issues? Would you work with the vendor again? If possible, speak with several people to give you a greater understanding of your potential vendors.
  1. Make a deal with the best vendor: You’ve completed your research, talked to trusted sources and discussed the job with your potential partners. It’s time to cut a deal with a vendor capable of enhancing the workflow of your surplus warehouse by finalizing any details and signing a contract.

Selecting a vendor is generally not a transaction but rather the start of a long term relationship. Following the above steps, as well as any procedures required by your organization, can help you find a vendor that meets the needs of your organization. If successful, a relationship with a vendor can be enjoyable and can help propel your business to great heights.

Tweetable takeaways

Share this article on Twitter or your other social media accounts, using any of these three, 140 characters or less, Tweetable Takeaways:

  • In dealing with vendors, #surplus managers should take the time to make a decision benefiting their warehouse.
  • Selecting the right vendors to partner with can be a tough decision for a #surplus manager.
  • #Surplus managers are tasked with finding vendors to help with everything from cardboard bailing to auctions.
2019-09-11T16:02:36-04:00Tags: , |

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!