Thank Goodness for Plan B

Last week was one of those weeks where everything seemed to happen at once and so involved lots of organisation, a crazy-sized ‘to do’ list, the need to be in several different places at once and dinners being served out of packets that go ‘ping’ rather than being home-cooked (well there’s only so much organisation that can be done!)

I was in London on Monday for a very exciting meeting with my publishers, planning new and exciting things for the months ahead – more on that another time – when following our meeting, and as I was on my way back to Paddington Station, I received a telephone call. The gist of it was that the time had been changed for my daughter’s afternoon ‘Bell Boating’ experience (don’t even ask) which meant that the friend whom I had lined up to take her to the venue now couldn’t make it as it clashed with her own schedule.

With me being in London, obviously I couldn’t do it! What should I do? Ring the Bell Boating people and tell them how inconsiderate they are and insist they put the time back to normal? No – I’d never live it down and I couldn’t see them agreeing to that! Put up with a devastated, stroppy daughter when she realised she couldn’t go? No – most definitely not an option. Ring around my entire phonebook begging for help from friends? No – that would muck up their own plans….

But actually, I didn’t have to worry about any of this because I was in possession of a ‘back up plan’ – and a smug grin! I simply called my very reliable, always willing friend who I had primed for this very possibility, and asked her to do the taxi run instead! Which she very obligingly did. Problem solved, everyone’s happy.

Seriously – I always have a back up plan! Usually two back up plans and only once have all back up plans failed! But it’s absolutely essential when you are running a business, a home, two children and two dogs!

Now obviously this was only a minor blip in the great scheme of things, but even with the most carefully laid plans, with business and pleasure, things can still go a little pear-shaped. And it’s ultra important to have a Plan B (and a Plan C sometimes) – particularly when it comes to your business and importantly when it comes to dealing with wholesalers and sourcing your stock for resale.

So today I’m going to give you some tips to ensure you can always source stock at the best prices and you can always fulfil your orders. It’s all about being organised and having a back up plan if required.

Please don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

How many times have you heard that one before? But this is about the only cliché that is true. There is no greater feeling than finding the perfect wholesale source for your chosen product. I still get a buzz from this, over 8 years after I started my online businesses – that lovely feeling of achievement when you’ve done your research, you’ve secured a good deal and you know you can order in small quantities so a sample lot won’t break the bank.

So, imagine the scenario. You place your order with the supplier, pay for your goods and in a few days your parcel arrives at your door. You list your items online and as you expected (because you’ve done your research) they all sell out in days. You know you have a definite hot product on your hands that will sell over and over and you have a supplier who will provide you with the item for as long as you are selling it and re-ordering.

Or have you?

What if you go to order a second lot and your supplier has gone into liquidation? What if your supplier has closed down due to illness or retirement? What if your supplier has decided not to stock the product anymore? What if you simply cannot get the product from your original supplier anymore?

Imagine those disappointed customers. Imagine the money you could be earning but now can’t due to the lack of one very important thing – the product! I won’t beat about the bush, this could be an absolute disaster for you and your business, which is why you should always consider purchasing stock (even the same items) from more than one supplier. It’s simply a ‘Plan B’ if things go wrong.

Operate in more than one niche too so that if one product or niche goes cold for a while, you have a second or third niche or product to fall back on. This way you will always be making money even if things wobble for a time.

Unfortunately, if you rely on just one supplier for all your products you leave yourself wide open to the risk of losing everything if things go wrong with that supplier. Always remember this when sourcing your products and choosing your suppliers.

So, great – you’re going to ensure you have a Plan B and utilise more than one supplier – but how do you find those suppliers in the first place?

Well, I’ve put together the following important advice to help you source a great supplier, to ensure that your goods are always delivered on time and to a high standard, and to lower your costs by getting a great deal from every wholesale supplier you deal with – even your Plan B, C and D suppliers!

Finding a supplier

Some of the best deals to be had from wholesale suppliers come from overseas, particularly from countries like China where goods can be produced very cheaply. I know this might be a little scary to start with, so if you have limited experience in dealing with wholesalers, it makes more sense to start in the UK, with a company that you know you can easily contact and meet face to face if required.

Local wholesale suppliers can be found within your local phone book, and you can of course use the internet to track down other potential sources within your area – in fact this is very likely to be where you will think of looking first. You can also utilise dedicated websites such as my own Product Sourcing Membership Site The Source Report to find reliable wholesale suppliers and resources!

Then, once you have a shortlist of potential wholesalers, you can head over to Google and search for reviews from buyers that have used the supplier in the past to ensure you are dealing with a genuine company that suits your needs.

Getting great service

It’s really important that you establish at the outset that you are a serious buyer. If you can, use the telephone rather than email to make contact with a supplier after your initial enquiry, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or confirm specifics. Constant communication will help your supplier realise that you are professional and running a serious business.

Reputable wholesale suppliers will usually offer you the option of purchasing a small selection or sample of stock before placing a larger order. Take advantage of this, and if it isn’t advertised then be brave and ask for it. You might have to pay a little more for the goods, but a small sample will help you to be sure that you are buying a quality product.

Bargaining for the best price

Once you have settled on a supplier and chosen a product, it is time to agree on a price. You should never underestimate your bargaining ability. The price that a wholesaler offers you isn’t necessarily their final offer, so be ready to fight for the best deal available! This is especially useful when you are dealing with several suppliers offering the same product (your Plan B, C and D!)

To knock down the price you can explain that you have another supplier offering the same product to you at a more competitive price – a bit of competition works wonders! Or you can offer to buy a larger quantity of products for a discounted price as bulk deals certainly provide the best rates. Don’t buy more than you are confident that you can sell though, or you could end up with surplus stock sitting in your garage for months!

It’s often easier to bargain with a supplier face to face, hence the advantage of a local provider, particularly as you get used to understanding how wholesalers work, so don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price rather than accepting the original price shown.

Wholesalers want your business and are often prepared to reduce their prices but as you would expect, if you don’t ask, don’t expect them to offer – they are in business too! Don’t forget that the wholesalers that you are dealing with will be used to it and will expect you to drive them down. They will not think any less of you for doing so.

Believe me – there is always a deal to be done so make sure it’s you who gets that deal and of course, make sure you have a back up plan to safeguard your business!