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 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.

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  • http://MichaelK.Lennon Michael K. Lennon

    It is comforting to hear that there are still print buyers and/or business owners out there that remember those suppliers who beleived in them at a critical point in their careers. <br />
    First and foremost, I firmly believe in competitive bidding where public tax dollars are a part of the equation, and have often myself been asked to help clarify the terminology for an RFQ from various public institutions to help level the playing field, some of which we have won and some of which we did not. After all is said and done I truly believe "may the best man (or woman) win". <br />
    When it comes to most "other" work from the private sector, it is rewarding for me to know that my assistance, whether it be risky extension of credit to a new or struggling customer during difficult times or just my willingness to spend extra time to share expertise that helps take some of the bumps out of the clients project, is remembered when it comes to future consideration of the awarding of contracts. That is the cement of many a true business relationship. <br />
    Having started and been in business for 26 years myself, and early on having experienced the occasional need for that trust and support from key suppliers, builds relationships that go well beyond just finding the best price. Still today I use many of the key suppliers that "hung in there" with us way back when and therefore have in my mind become partners in where we are today. In turn I am confident that we as well are silent partners with our own truly loyal customers.

  • http://Anonymous Anonymous

    It happens in every level of the printing process. In California if you’re not a Hispanic with large breasts, you don’t have a chance!!<br />
    <br />
    I see mountains of sub-standard products being purchased due to politics and pay out favors.