3 Ways To Avoid Bad Vendors

By Angelika Ilina

It is a sad truth at Ai Creative that we “inherit” many of our clients as a result of vendors that were “fired.” It’s sad, and admittedly aggravating, to hear client stories of wasted time and money. Inevitably, clients end up spending more time and money, and often have to start from scratch.

If fact, our first client back in 2003 came to us because they got “burned” by a vendor who promised, but didn’t deliver. Three out of five prospective clients that we spoke with last month got “burned.” Three recent projects involved fixing a previous vendor’s mess. Why does this happen and what can you do about it?

Bad Vendor DNA

Have you ever worked with a vendor who was:

  • Unreliable?
  • Inexperienced?
  • Difficult to get a hold of?
  • Slow and inefficient?
  • Dishonest?
  • Untalented?
  • Poor at customer service?
  • Not focused on results?
  • [Fill in the blank]?
  • All of the above?

If you have, then you’ve dealt with our industry’s foremost problem.

An Industry-wide Problem

Why does this problem exist in our industry? I believe that the most reasonable explanation for it is: there is a low cost of entry into the marketplace. Anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and a phone can whip up a website overnight and start calling themselves a web designer, or an SEO expert, or a social media expert.

Compare this to starting a mobile device manufacturing company, for example. You can’t just whip that up overnight. The cost of entry into that industry requires substantial investment and experience, so not everyone and their grandmother is likely to start one, but it happens in our industry all the time.

How To Avoid Bad Vendors

1. Check at least three references.
It is surprising how few prospective clients we talk to ask us for our references (they should). Is the vendor willing and able to provide references in a timely manner (during your initial conversation or by email within 24 hours)? They should easily come up with at least 3 happy clients who have already offered to serve as a reference. Do the references speak highly of the vendor when asked tough questions identifying the bad vendor DNA?

2. Ask about the longest client relationship.
Experience with good track record matters. Find out how long the vendor has worked with their longest-term client, or what the average is for a client relationship. Is it 3 months, 3 years or 10 years? If there is a high turnover, chances are the clients aren’t satisfied with the work or the relationship.

3. Read client testimonials.
Are there in-depth testimonials on the vendor’s website with the client’s full name, title and company name? How many are there? Alternatively, or in addition, are there case studies? Perhaps trust logos such as BBB?

Although these suggestions won’t necessarily help you to avoid all of the pitfalls, they will dramatically reduce your chances of wasted time and money.

Digital Marketing, Marketing

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