Your supplier is crucial to your success – their mistakes and shortcomings can bleed into your own business. Switching suppliers is not an easy task though, in fact it can be time-consuming and disruptive. But sometimes it’s necessary to take the time to weigh the pros and cons of your supplier.

Why is a good supplier-customer relationship vital? You want to be able to work with this company on a day-to-day basis, similar to the way you’d want to enjoy working with your colleagues. A good relationship can sprout new ideas and they’ll value your inputs and requests, and vice versa.

Here are some red flags that may signal it’s time for change:

Poor customer service:

At the end of the day, you are your supplier’s customer. If they are serious about keeping your business, they should be treating you with respect and dignity. Do you find that you’re speaking to unhappy or unhelpful representatives, consistently seeing mistakes with invoicing, or having to provide the same information multiple times? Those may be signs that your supplier isn’t the right fit. If their representatives don’t thoughtfully provide service, what’s happening behind the scenes? Check out this article written by Matt Shealy that supports this point.


Unresponsiveness to your requests is a sign to explore new supplier options. If your supplier regularly ghosts you, doesn’t keep in touch, or you are shuffled around from agent to agent, that’s a sign to ditch them. Good suppliers will value your time.

They take you for granted:

Your supplier barely includes a thank you in your conversations? They’re indifferent to your business? Their customer service is lacking? All are signs that your supplier is taking your business for granted. Your supplier should be putting in the work to keep you as a customer and frequently thanking you for your business.

Unjustified rise in cost:

The cost of supplies and services rises and that’s natural, even expected. However, if you’re experiencing frequent, high price jumps without notice or explanation, that’s a sign to find someone new. Be sure to keep an eye on small prices increases, don’t let your supplier sneakily slip in a tiny price jump without notifying you. A good supplier will prepare you for a price increase, big or small.

Unreasonable or unreliable delivery times:

Right now we are all experiencing a shortage in supplies and longer-than-normal delivery times, and these cases can be explained. Maybe you notice that one of your suppliers seems to have an exceptional difficulty getting your items to you in a timely manner, beyond what you expect with current global delivery difficulties. This is a red flag and a sign that something deeper could be going on in the company. Find out what the average lead time is in the industry so you know where your supplier stands. It might be a good idea to seek out a supplier that offers Supplier Managed Inventory.

Not “with the times”:

Professionalism and availability matters greatly in the business world. If you notice your supplier doesn’t have a digital presence with heaps of readily available information that can be a red flag. This also goes for outdated and tedious ordering processes. An online presence shows that the company strives to provide you with the answers before you even have the question. It can also build credibility for the company, and you want to be able to trust your supplier. Also, fast and updated ordering processes shows they value your time. So, if your supplier hasn’t embraced the Information Age, start scoping out one that has.

Lack of quality:

You might notice that the quality that once drew you to your supplier is starting to slip. Or maybe, your standards of quality have changed. If your supplier cannot deliver on quality, it might be time to reevaluate your partnership.

What are some green flags? How do you know when your current supplier is “the one”?
Two people shaking hands.

They are continually growing and innovating:

Your supplier should be able to keep up with current trends and innovations. Curiosity is a good sign too; if they’re interested in what your company is creating and improving, keep them! Growing with your supplier versus without them is a great green flag to look out for.

At DuraTech Industries, we thrive on innovation. Recently, we partnered with CareWear to manufacture parts of their new patches and licensed cutting edge IMSE technology from TactoTek.

They keep you in the know:

Is your supplier frequently keeping in touch? Do they let you know the status of your parts and keep you updated on progress? If your supplier is able to keep you in the loop, that’s a green flag! Another green quality to look out for: they make their expectations known so you aren’t traveling through the process blindly.

DuraTech is dedicated to building lasting customer relationships. You can read about how we keep that promise here.

They have high expectations for quality:

Quality means a lot these days – consumers want to purchase items that are durable and will last. Does your supplier go the extra mile to ensure you’re getting quality product from them? If you can say yes, then that is a green flag.

DuraTech understands this, and we have measures in place to protect the quality of products we manufacture. This includes conducting audits at various points, “during initial setup, due to performance issues, or based on how critical the service or product is to our success.” Greg Schwebach, DuraTech’s Supplier Quality Engineer explains. He adds, “Audits that happen during the initial phase revolve around the supplier’s quality system. We audit to ensure they are providing consistent quality inputs so we can produce the best possible product for our customers. They are rated against the ISO 9001:2015 standard. What we require of our suppliers is defined by KPI’s determined by Purchasing and Quality and monitored through our suppler scorecard.” And what happens when they’re not meeting our requirements? Greg describes the next step as, “Failure to meet requirements may lead to a process audit. Here we follow product through their processes and make sure they are controlling relevant variables.”

They’re an expert in their industry:

Does your supplier always offer a little more than their competitors? Are they always one of the first to release new products, processes, or technology? Is their staff knowledgeable and diverse? If you are answering yes to these, that is a green flag!

DuraTech is continuously growing our capabilities. We strive to provide top technology and products to our customers. Our latest revolutionary product? 3M’s Screenable Adhesive.

They can be your “one-stop-shop” so you don’t need multiple suppliers and contracts:

If your supplier can provide you with more than one product or service, that is a green flag! This usually means your supplier is advanced, knows what their customers need, and it typically can save you money and time!

At DuraTech, we offer many services so we can be your one-stop-shop. From printing to forming to In-Mold-Decorating and Value-Added Assembly, we offer it all to make it easier for you.

You share similar cultures and values:

Similar to the way you hire your team members, or choose your friends – you want someone that shares your culture and values! If your supplier has like-culture and values, that is a green flag.

DuraTech is driven to provide rich culture and values. Check out our Mission + Vision to see if we align with yours.

Taking time to periodically review your supplier’s performance is a fantastic way to keep your company healthy. Don’t let the costs and risks deter you from finding the right fit for your company.

Are you considering a switch in custom printers? We would love to chat about it. Head over to our contact form and we’ll talk to you soon!