In today’s marketplace, one of the more significant business challenges many companies face is managing supplier quality and consistency. While there may not be one perfect supplier, finding one that produces high-quality products at competitive customer pricing is vital.

Read on for a list of other key indicators that point to a reliable supplier who can keep up with the growth and overall demand of your business.

1. Your Supplier’s Reputation Is One of the Best in the Industry

Are they known as innovative? Do they continue to implement the most up-to-date technologies for their manufacturing processes? Having a stellar reputation in their industry is a good sign that their business practices from the ground up are transparent and trustworthy, two qualities you want in a business partner.

Other signs to look for are testimonials from their clients; these are often featured on their website and give you some decent insight into the scope and size of projects your supplier is involved with. If they list the year these projects were completed, this can also give you an idea of the supplier’s longevity. Ideally, you’d like to work with a supplier that has been in business for longer than a few years — usually, this translates to them being an expert in their industry and means they know it well.

2. They Have Extensive Production Capabilities

It takes more than finding a supplier that can meet your price point, you want a supplier who can manufacture the product you need to your specifications. Look to see what processes and staff your supplier has in place. Make sure you verify any claims or standards they make. You can do this in a variety of ways, these include inspecting certifications, licensing and their finished product inventory. As well as requesting a product sample, look into their research and development side and their manufacturing technologies.

If you are looking to take it a step further, good suppliers will often let you visit their factory or lab to see their on-premise capabilities.

3. Ease of Communication

Being able to communicate in an effective and timely manner is of the utmost importance when choosing your supplier. Sure, going with a supplier overseas may seem like a good value at the time, but lengthy e-mail communication, delayed responses due to different time zones and language barriers can cause costly disruptions in your shipment schedules and more.

Find a supplier who you can actually talk to, that way if something does come up, such as a change to the product specifications or a delay in production, no one is left in the dark.

4. They Offer a Product Design Resource

Do they offer a material selection and design guide? A great way to find a quality supplier is to ask for product information guides. These should be in-depth and provide critical information such as a description of the material and its features. The design guide should also offer other important details such as temperature range, hardness and limitations. For example, if you’re searching for a gasket seal for a housing application, your supplier should have ample options for seal types and gland design available. Suppliers who have a design guide resource accessible save you time while allowing you to find the exact sealing solution to fit your needs.

Successful supplier relationships are a two-way street — open and direct communication is essential, as is accountability and good business ethics. Take your time researching and evaluating each supplier before you choose who to work with, you want the best for your customers and your business.