Maybe you are lucky enough to be the owner of a business that is completely self-contained and requires no outside assistance whatsoever. That would certainly put you in the minority, however. Most businesses require products or services that they need to buy from an outside party, also known as suppliers. And shrewd business owners understand just how important it is for them to have a reliable supplier at the ready whenever some specific need comes down the pike.

The common mistake made by some business owners is that they focus in on the prices offered by the suppliers and don’t look at anything else. What those people often end up with are suppliers that don’t cost as much as competitors but also don’t come through in terms of providing what’s needed at the exact time that it is needed. That’s why, if you’re a business owner, you should be coming in with a ready-made set of questions that you’re asking of prospective suppliers. And if you don’t like the answers they give, be prepared to walk away and find somebody else.

These questions take on extra-added import when you’re dealing with something as complex and crucial as machining services that are required by your business. Start with these general questions and move on from there.

What Business Like Mine Do You Supply?

A supplier can have a long track record of success catering to many far-flung clients, but it has to be able to meet the needs of the specific sector of the business world that you inhabit. For that reason, you need to find out which of the clients that the supplier in question boasts is most similar to providing the kinds of products and services that you do. Then find out just what their relationship is with that client, right down to specifics about products. This will help you ensure that they are really the right fit for your company.

Do You Have What I Need?

This seems like an obvious question, but many suppliers have expert salespeople who will come to you with a line of products that seem like a great idea at the time. Rather than having this pitch waste your time, you should go into any meeting with potential suppliers with a list of the exact products that you will need and how often you will need them. Then, and only then, can you allow the salespeople to do their song and dance for you, keeping it specifically to the items in question?

Are You Dependably Prompt?

A lot of suppliers will make promises to deliver your products to you in record time. But what you need to know is if you can rely on the products getting there when you need them. Make sure the supplier is realistic about the time frame it can provide you for making deliveries, and make sure they have a track record of staying within that time frame without fail.

Your relationship with your supplier is one of the most important ones you will have during the life of your business. Ask the right questions and you have a much better chance of getting the answers most relevant to your company.