Strategy Partner With the Best
How long is your commitment? Contract for no more than a year at a time. Unless you're a very large catalog company, contracting for more than one year isn't necessary. Too many things can change, and going out for bids once a year is good, sound business. It's a very competitive business, and you want to remain current. Ensure you can opt out of the contract if you don't feel the relationship is working.
What's not included in the price bid? Is the vendor's pricing competitive and inclusive? Make sure its philosophy to pricing isn't set up to nickel and dime you. Keep in mind that it's very easy for a vendor to offer a cataloger a low price. But, a low price alone won't retain a cataloger long term.
What do the vendor's clients say? Talk with three or four of the prospective vendor's other clients. Obtain several references and carefully check them out. In addition to checking out the company, conduct reference checks on the actual team that will be assigned to your account. Learn as much as you can about how the vendor operates.
You might want to use a simple form like the one shown to rate or score your evaluation of a vendor. In our example, a vendor under consideration is evaluated on 10 different points, and is given a score from one to five. Total the number of points, and divide by 10 to determine the score. If you're in the four to five range, you probably should consider using the vendor.
However, if you have scores of one, two or three, be wary. This vendor probably isn't right for you. Or, rank the criteria based on what's most important to you. What's more, you might want to say that a vendor has to be a five for at least four of the top five priority evaluation items in order to be considered. By doing this, you're weighing what's important to your needs. It's also a good idea to create this very same evaluation form for your current vendor to be sure there's a real gain by switching to another vendor.