Prominent Article, but Bad Advice

buyers need new suppliers

A major business magazine recommends NOT answering RFQ’s.  What baloney!  We strongly disagree.

Proficient Sourcing’s business involves responding to buyers seeking new manufacturing suppliers for custom parts or assemblies.  In most cases the buyer needs a NEW supplier because of any of several situations.  In these cases the buyer depends upon a responsible response to the inquiry, which is usually a drawing, sometimes with specs, and a request for quote.

Amazingly, we found an Inc Magazine article from several years ago recommending NOT answering a quote request.  This would appear to represent perhaps the worst advice in our situation we’ve ever seen!  The first thought in this article is this:  “Flattered to be asked to respond to an RFP? You shouldn’t be. Here’s why they’re bad for your business”.   Then there are several other justifications for NOT answering.

Nonsense!  Especially in these times of virus-caused project delays and slowdowns.  Who among us does not need more business?  Not many, we’d guess.  Obviously quote requests for things outside a shop’s expertise are a reason for not answering.  But those that fit?  Answer, answer, answer if at all possible.

Our position is that the shops we work with are to either no-bid a request for quote or answer it.  Not only that, but when asked to offer a planned response date.  We recognize there are circumstances where our chances of success are low, but if the requested work fits, NOT answering is a guarantee of NOT getting that work.

Certainly there are situations where a response is not appropriate, even if the job is a good fit.  Capacity may not be available when needed or the prospects of continued good business is not evident.  Some companies accept one-offs, others not.  So the work needs to fit a potential shop’s circumstances.

Here’s a bit of advice we’ve offered several shops when the request does not fit at this time, but otherwise might.  No bid the request, but add interest in this sort of work in case it comes up again.  Maybe the no-fit circumstances will not be present then.

Here are some situations where a buyer needs a new supplier:  A current supplier fails or goes out of business; the need is for something unavailable via the current supplier base, or the company wishes to outsource something heretofore done internally.

Hopefully, the invasion of a virus has made foreign supply more problematic that previously.  So we’ve seen several cases of an OEM seeking to find domestic suppliers for something currently made abroad.  Why in the world would someone NOT answer such a request that’s a good fit, or would be a good fit in the near future?

Admittedly job shops are more commodity than product sellers in most cases.  That’s surely one reason why the article is not a perfect fit.  It’s also the case that every shop has a sweet spot, and its our job to help the OEM buyer/engineer find the shop that fits their requirements as closely as possible.

So while we disagree with advice NOT to answer, the subject begs the question of how to structure the quest for the right supplier so that better results occur.  We have addressed this on several occasions, and you can find those comments in our blog:

And if you are interested in the Inc article, here’s the link.

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