Four Tips to Help Purchasing Agents Excel
(Author: Jeri Quinn, co-founder of Resource Referral Center)
Purchasing agents, also called procurement professionals, office or buyer managers don’t get a lot of attention when they do their job well. Things are running smoothly and budgets are being met. The challenge is to walk that fine line between balancing cost and quality. It’s also important to find and maintain relationships with reliable vendors who consistently provide high-quality, cost-efficient goods and services. Most purchasing agents or managers are working on a strict budget. One wrong move can destroy the bottom line.
It’s not easy. Purchasing agents and managers have to master:
- Negotiation with internal staff and vendors.
- Research on best vendors and reasonable pricing.
- Budgeting, forecasting, and financial reporting.
- Ordering, tracking, expediting, and problem-solving.
- Knowing something (maybe a lot) about every department’s specialized needs.
The health of the company is dependent on the purchasing agent handling the role reliably, abiding by deadlines to have products and services purchased and delivered on time, at a price that allows the company to flourish. (Yes, they should pay you more!) Here are our top tips to increase your effectiveness in your role as a purchasing agent. These tips will also save you time.
- Look for tools and platforms that can make parts of your job easier. There are platforms where you can find vetted and recommended vendors that are known to be highly reliable, experienced experts in their industries. It cuts down your research time if you can find several vendors, all of whom meet your quality standards, all on one platform. Of course, you want vendors that your company will be happy with. So, the platform that offers to introduce you to a vendor you can trust should have plenty of easy-to-find proof that this vendor is trustworthy.
- Review your current vendors periodically to see if there are better ones with more competitive pricing. Vendors may get complacent after they have had your business for a while. Pricing creeps up slowly. They deliver the same things because that’s what they think you want. Meanwhile, new trends may be developing, or a newer pricing model may have been introduced in the industry, and they may not want to disrupt the sweetheart deal they’ve got going with you. Competition helps.
- Use an auditing service to examine your last few bills from utilities, shipping companies, connectivity services, payroll services, and many other everyday business expenses. The auditing service may be able to get a refund based on overcharges. Or it may re-negotiate your contract with your vendor, so you pay less going forward. Or maybe recommend a better vendor.
- Develop a strong relationship with your vendors. Some vendors work so closely with departments in your company that they consider each other key partners. Get to know those key vendors well. Create some professional connections that improve the working relationship. Pay them on time and keep them informed about what’s going on. It may position your company to receive special emergency service, lower prices, favorite customer status, co-marketing opportunities, breaks during tough times, etc.
Ultimately, your performance in your job is measured by the business returns and savings you can realize from optimized procurement processes and vendor relationships. Use these four tips to be amazing in your role and impress your company’s leadership with your brilliance and expertise.
Jeri Quinn is the co-founder of the Resource Referral Center, a B2B matchmaking service that matches expert vendors with companies that seek those vendors. The Resource Referral Center provides a platform where a purchasing professional can find multiple vetted and recommended vendors in one place. One of its vendors/members provides the auditing service mentioned above. Another vendor coaches professionals on building strong relationships. Many other vendors offer complimentary second opinions/quotes on the products and services a company is already purchasing. Go to our resources page and ask for an introduction to any professional you’d like to have a conversation with.