Guest Blog: Mervyn Bowden – don’t demolish your supplier!

What do you want from an energy efficiency services supplier or renewables installer? Sounds like a simple and straightforward question but, as you’ll find later, there are lots of sub-plots […]

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By Sumit Bose

What do you want from an energy efficiency services supplier or renewables installer?

Sounds like a simple and straightforward question but, as you’ll find later, there are lots of sub-plots as always….

One thing I find truly depressing is news of yet more longstanding, reputable companies being wound up. Notably brought home by Farebrothers of Manchester, an M & E specialist which has traded for almost 50 years, announcing just that last week. The cause? Huge focus by customers on taking every penny they can from the cost of projects.

Customers have every right to do that, I hear you say. I feel strongly that there are many companies out there whose clients will still want to be around when we eventually crawl out of the other end of recession. Ensuring that you survive by screwing everyone who supplies you may be a good, sound, short-term measure which wins you a couple of claps at your AGM but what does it do to you in the longer term?

Hardly a “sustainable” practice to screw everyone all of the time or indeed a sensible way of doing business.

Whatever happened to all the talk in the business community of “partnering” with suppliers, working closely together to understand each other’s business and helping develop mutual plans for success in the future?

Here I would draw a distinction between straightforward procurement for the supply and perhaps simple installation of multiple components – like light fittings and other, far more complex service and quality based activities, like consultancy services.

Many companies focus their thuggish procurement on the first category driving margins down to an absolute minimum and wondering later why those suppliers are no longer around. On the other side of the coin are activities like consultancy services, whereby particularly larger companies seem to spray cash around like confetti for all sorts of activities and schemes without any thought of measurement around the acceptability, or indeed the relative success, of some of the outputs produced.

I’ve seen some absolutely appalling examples of outputs from consultants which were ill-informed, out of date, inappropriate or just plain wrong. The consultants in question weren’t paid any less for their abysmal performance and proceeded to gain more work from the clients in question.

My point is that you should understand the quality of what you’re buying and, in the case of consultancy, its value to your business.

I’ve blogged on this before but just take a look at the companies you deal with and think about those  you’d like to be around in the future – usually I would suggest they’ll be those who give you quality solutions and outcomes.

So, what are you going to do to ensure they ARE around?