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“What makes us different from others in our industry?”

People often ask us “what makes you different from others in your industry?” I’ve often found tha[...]
  • When is it a good idea to choose a vendor based solely on price?

    Almost NEVER.

    1) When I worked on a committee to build an annex to our church, the price tag was close to $5 million. The church members didn’t like that price one bit. But you know what? We were instructed by the architect to throw out the low bid. Period. Why? Because the low man is usually the one that skimps on the details. Either they didn’t factor something into the bid that he would have to eat, and make up for elsewhere, or he uses the lowest bidding subs on the job, who are usually the sloppiest tradesmen.

    2) The building our store was located in for years was owned by a very nice man….with a very tight wallet. He was decades my senior, was on the cutting edge of the computer craze (that’s how long ago this was) but he ALWAYS, AND I MEAN ALWAYS went with the low bidder, and it ended up costing him time, frustration, and more money down the line. The City inspectors knew they had a disaster on their hands any time he applied for a permit. Parking lot? Crumbled in a few years. Landscaping? Pitiful. Roof leaks? Let’s just say he replaced a lot of merchandise, ceiling tiles, fixtures…. and eventually had to re-roof before it’s time. After years of observing these types of experiences, he asked me: “Why do you have such good luck with contractors, inspectors and vendors?” I thought it was obvious. At least it was to me. And I was shocked that the owner of the building would be asking a young budget conscious business owner. My answer? “Because I get what I pay for.”

    3) Years ago, I was doing some custom printed glass votives for an organization, and gave them what I knew was a good price. The person in charge on their end happened to be one of my staff members, who looked online and found a less expensive version by a good bit, and asked (pleaded) with me to meet the price. I struggled with this… it was a vendor I wasn’t familiar with.   But it was my staff member, so we had a relationship, and we had such a huge amount of lead time I agreed. I gave the vendor a normal lead time (3 weeks) and they MISSED the deadline. That is unforgivable in an events related industry. Once the glasses arrived, 1/3 of them were broken, and a high percentage that were in tact were sloppily printed, with parts of the artwork missing or blurred. I send them pictures immediately and they refused to re-print until I sent the broken and misprinted items back to them IN TEXAS. Mind you, they were under the impression that the event was the coming week. Did not care. Once we finally pieced the order together, weeks later, the real event date was fast approaching, and I had many many frustrating hours invested on the phone with this company to try to make my client happy. That was a lesson I didn’t need to learn, but I learned it just the same.

    4) Another client wanted really cheap pens. I all but said no. She insisted. I gave her 15 reasons not to. She insisted. I absolved myself of responsibility. She insisted. After all, they were only going be used in the staffing industry where people come in, fill out an application and leave, many of which will never return. OK. Fine. :) The pens came in. On time. And a week later I got a call with several complaints. They didn’t write well. A few of them leaked, one exploded. Even the logo printed on the pens was starting to wear off. Imagine my shock ;) So I did what any business owner would do in that position—-I replaced the pens, on my dime, with a nicer version. Why? Because that was just the right thing to do. And you know what? She has been a customer of mine for years since that transaction, always heeding any advice I might have for a quality product at a good price.

    5) Panic. There have been dozens and dozens of tearful pleas from college students and companies alike to PLEASE HELP them. Could we please rush an order (or fix an order) that another vendor dropped the ball on? And by rush I mean print in just a few days. Despite a busy production schedule. In almost every case, we were able to help. But I ask myself every time…..what would it take for the person in charge of the order to understand the risks of using chapter money to place an order that’s $1 less per shirt, when they increase their chances of needing to replace the items completely, fix them at a cost, or miss an event for which they were to be worn? I truly believe that you get what you pay for. Now, we are not the most expensive vendors out there by any stretch. BUT WE USE ONLY TRUSTED, TRIED AND TRUE products, inks, staff, equipment, vendors, carriers and reps. They are not the cheapest for a very good reason. Because they do a good job, every time. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR QUALITY. We believe this wholeheartedly. Won’t you share this with those who are in charge of placing bulk orders for your organization? If it’s not us, then please, use a company that holds themselves to the same standards. Not the price matchers. Not the rep of the month. Not the one with cute artwork (since we actually create all artwork to order, straight from your concept). Pick the ones who will get you samples. Who will create and tweak the art until you’re happy and your advisor is happy. Who is Greek licensed. Who is there (and has been for almost 30 years). Help yourselves, and help the good guys in the industry. Because it is worth it!

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