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Is it Time to Cut Ties with a Stale Supplier and Find a New One?

When business sparks fade, consider a supplier break-up. Like personal relationships, evolving needs or communication breakdowns may prompt a split.

It’s not you, it’s me.

We’ve grown apart.

You’re not the person I thought you were.

Don't worry, we LOVE all our customers and vendors, but at some point, every business needs to evaluate what's best for them. 

There are many reasons why a previously good relationship turns bad. Business relationships are no different, and one of the most important relationships in any business is with your supplier. A good one, like any good relationship, isn’t always frictionless, but good communication and shared trust means that any bumps in the road are easily smoothed over, and business keeps rolling along. But sometimes, it turns out that a supplier just isn’t right for you, and you feel the need to move on.

Maybe you still like the supplier’s representatives or salespeople on a personal level, but your business needs have changed, or the market has changed, or supply chain problems have left you with a headache one time too many, and you need to find a supplier who can supply you with the right products and materials. Or maybe you’re feeling ignored. The supplier’s focus may have changed and as they busy themselves courting new customers, communication and customer service aren’t what they used to be.

In the case of a refiner, you might begin looking for a new one when your old one isn’t offering fair, up-to-date market prices. Money problems are the downfall of many relationships, and a relationship with a refiner is no different. Keeping secrets is also a red flag in a relationship. It could be that your refiner is unable or unwilling to share samples or data. If they can’t tell you how they determined the composition of a sample, it might be time to move on.

Suppliers and manufacturers need each other, but it’s important to find the right relationship. A good supplier-manufacturer relationship looks a lot like a good interpersonal relationship: it’s built on mutual trust, open communication, and shared goals and values.

Cutting Ties

When there are contracts involved, splitting with a vendor, supplier, or refiner can be more like a divorce than a breakup. There are legal obligations to consider and procedures to follow. Maybe one side has breached the terms of the contract, or maybe the terms were not clear enough to begin with. Rather than trying to fix what’s broken, you just want to move on. No matter the situation, you’ll want your legal team on hand to review all contracts and relevant communication to help you plan your exit.

But before making a decision, make sure cooler heads prevail. Don’t decide to cut ties with a supplier or refiner in the midst of a disagreement. Step away from the problem and take time to assess whether this is truly the last straw, or if it was all just a misunderstanding that both sides can learn and grow from.

If you do all this and still decide to end the relationship, at least you’ve done so rationally, without burning any bridges. You don’t want to do anything that might harm your reputation in the industry. Before you even consider cutting ties with a vendor, draw up an offboarding procedure, covering everything both camps must do before the relationship ends, bringing both teams onto the same page. This will make the transition to working with a new vendor that much smoother.

The Other Fish in the Sea: How to Evaluate New Vendors, Suppliers, or Refiners

Decide what’s important to you. Do you want a supplier or refiner known for innovation, or would you rather stick to tried-and-true methods? What does great customer service mean to you? Do you need a small, specialized range of products, or do you want a supplier that can do a little of everything?  Understanding your own needs, as well as what went wrong with your previous supplier, will help you make the right choice.

Look for certifications. Third-party certifications back up transparency and responsibility claims and let you know that you’re working with an organization that values transparency. Your supplier’s commitment to supply chain transparency will reduce your own risk of failing to comply with regulations. Third-party certifications also verify that a supplier is compliant with industry-standard technology, inventory control, and financial recordkeeping.

Ask about their techniques and procedures. This is an important step for evaluating refiners. We have an effective, transparent process for preparing, sampling, and analyzing material brought in for refining, developed over nearly half a century in the refining business. These procedures ensure that we are all on the same page in terms of the composition, weight, and value of the material throughout the entire process.

Analyze their history and current relationships. What kinds of customers do they currently serve? If their current portfolio is wildly out of line with your own business and goals, they might not be the right supplier for you. A newer business might not have many partners at all. That shouldn’t preclude you from working with them, but you might feel safer in the hands of a long-established supplier with a track record of great customer service, timely delivery, and a culture of honesty and integrity. Price will always be a factor in business, but don’t just chase the lowest prices. If a quote seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Time for a Breath of Fresh Air?

If you’re feeling like it’s time to move on from a supplier or refiner relationship that’s not working for you anymore, give us a call. After 50+ years in business, we know the foundations for a great relationship, from prompt, attentive customer support to a steady stream of new products to keep things fresh. We’ve demonstrated our commitment to supply chain transparency and responsibility by achieving SCS certification for 100% recycled platinum, fine gold, fine silver, and sterling silver content to better support the goals of our customers and our customers’ customers. Get in touch today and you’ll know you’ve found the one!