The Politics of Print Supplier Selection
So you think you’ve got the job wrapped up. Your knowledge of your competitors tells you that this job is the perfect fit for your plant. Plus you’ve got a great history servicing the client and a terrific relationship with the buyer. But when it comes time to award the job, the buyer inexplicably gives it to another printing company. What happened?
In a Print Buyers Online.com survey of over 78 top print buyers, buyers were asked “How often does your company undermine your selection of the best suppliers for your print jobs and ask you to choose another supplier – due to ‘politics’ or reciprocity arranged between upper management and the supplier?” Respondents stated the following:
• 52% said: “My company never asks me to choose a supplier based on business politics or reciprocity that was arranged between someone in my company and a print supplier(s). It’s not a problem for me.”
• 37% said: “My company occasionally asks me to choose a supplier based on business politics or reciprocity. While I may not always be happy about this, it doesn’t happen often enough to be a problem for me.”
• 10% said: “My company often asks me to choose a supplier(s) based on business politics or reciprocity. I find this disturbing and problematic.”
While it doesn’t happen all the time, 47% of our survey respondents say that sometimes politics play into the selection of the print supplier. This can happen for a number of reasons, including a benign attempt to give a particular print supplier work that hasn’t gotten any for quite a while.
Sometimes the reason is more deep-seated. Years ago I provided consulting services for a large publishing company that employed about 10 print buyers. I remember that occasionally the buyers were told by the president to use a particular printer. The president never got involved in supplier selection except to make sure this printer received a significant amount of work. The story has it that the printer helped the president get his business started when the guy ran the new publishing company out of the garage of his home. The printer was the only one to give the new owner credit. Eventually the publishing business became a huge success and the owner/president never forgot who helped him get started.
Nice karma, huh? Of course, I’m sure there are less feel-good stories that revolve around who golfs with whom. But for better or worse, sometimes supplier selection is based on more than if the printer can produce the job the best.
Print Oasis 2008 Print Buyers Conference & Exhibit
February 9-12, 2008
Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island, FL