You depend on your colorant supplier to deliver a quality product on time and to specifications. But too often manufacturers find themselves lured in by low prices and lofty promises, only to find the quality of their colorant is poor and the service is even worse. So, it’s up to you to make sure you are really getting what you pay for. Here are some questions to ask your colorant supplier and what to look for in their answers to ensure you are getting the best product and service for your money.
1. How do you ensure quality in your raw materials?
The quality of the colorant you receive depends entirely on the quality of the raw materials used to make that colorant. Some colorant suppliers will buy raw pigment on a case-by-case basis, looking only for the best price to maximize profits. This can lead to variants in the color and performance of the end product you receive. Instead, look for a colorant supplier who only buys raw materials from suppliers they know and trust to ensure consistent quality every time. Also, ask how often they visit their suppliers to vet their operation and double check that all raw materials are up to par.
2. Can you provide next-day shipping? How much colorant do you keep in stock at any given time?
There’s a reason this is a two-part question. Some suppliers may claim they can provide next-day shipping, but their ability to do so depends entirely on the levels of colorant they keep on hand. Consider this scenario: You hadn’t planned on coloring over the weekend, but a good customer placed a big order and it made working over the weekend necessary. Unfortunately, you don’t have the colorant on-site that you need. If you place an order on Friday, will they have enough product in stock to get you what you need by Saturday? Or maybe your inventory count was off, and you have an order that needs to get out pronto, can your supplier come through for you? You shouldn’t have to keep excess product on hand for these situations. You shouldn’t have to invest money in inventory if your supplier can meet your needs on short notice. Go beyond average delivery time to ensure your supplier will always be able to deliver when you need it!
3. What kind of quality controls do you have in your manufacturing process?
You may not be interested in the nitty gritty details of your colorant supplier’s manufacturing process. But you need to make sure they have the proper controls in place to ensure the quality of the product you receive. A dependable supplier should have a quality management system that is based on ISO 9001 standards. Following these internationally recognized standards determines whether a company is able to consistently provide quality products and services. These standards are based on seven principles and among the most important of these principles are “customer focus” and “process approach.” So, ask your supplier to explain the steps involved in the manufacturing process and how they ensure quality from one step to the next. If they manufacture product at more than one location, how have they standardized processes to ensure consistency? What kinds of tests do they perform on their products and what metrics do they use to measure quality? The key here is to find a supplier who actually has answers to these questions because they have organized their manufacturing process around established, repeatable and data-driven practices.
4. Do you use new or recycled totes to ship colorant?
If a tote isn’t properly cleaned and there is residue left over from the last batch of colorant, that could compromise the color and performance of the product you receive. Valves can also wear out over time and get stuck, slowing down efficiency for your personnel. But using new, clean totes every time will help ensure you get the product you paid for in packaging that makes your job easier.
5. How will you handle my concerns if I have an issue with your product?
Every company will have a customer support line or a way to reach your sales representative directly. But it’s what happens after you call that really matters. Any colorant supplier should be able to provide a detailed and defined process for resolving product quality issues. This process should involve retesting their product retain, reviewing if other customers also received product from the same lot, checking the raw materials that went into that batch and more. If everything checks out on the supplier’s side, they should be able and willing to work with you to identify the root cause of the issue and devise a way forward.
6. What else can you do to support my business?
Some colorant suppliers are just that, suppliers. They may be great salespeople, but if they don’t have the real-world expertise, they won’t be able to help you in a time of need. Instead, ask questions to determine their familiarity with coloring equipment and industry best practices. Your colorant supplier should be more than just a vendor and help you troubleshoot problems, optimize your processes and even connect you with resources and expertise to improve your operation.
Every colorant supplier will tell you that they have the best product on the market. So, it’s up to you to cut through the sales pitch and do your due diligence to make sure you’re not only getting a product you can depend on, but a partner that will be there to help you grow your business. By asking these questions and doing your homework, you can make sure you’re getting what you pay for and produce a high-quality product your customers will love.