Should we share our supplier base?

By Alan Wight 

Here’s a question we get asked from time to time by clients.

“Please could you tell me the phone number of the people you used last time to do X?”

There’s a conundrum. This obviously means you are holding an event and may or may not be involving us this time. You would like the details of one of our suppliers so that you can book them yourself.

Of course we are immediately offended, fold our arms and assume the worst.

And because of our paranoia we assume:

  • Maybe you are booking them instead of us, so we can be ‘cut out’ (therefore you liked what our supplier did but not what we did).
  • Maybe you hope to save money by cutting out the middle man (we don’t mark up external costs so you don’t pay more BUT we might get a discounted rate because of the volume we book and on rare occasions, a commission*).
  • Maybe you are checking their rates directly to see whether we ‘ripped you off’ (see above).
  • Over time, we provide more and more contact details and render ourselves redundant!

Are we right?

Of course, there is an alternative view:

Someone’s boss asked them to get hold of XX, “you know, like we had at the last conference”

Nothing sinister, no judgement, no other consequences.

How can we tell which applies?

We never know but we do have a vast number of suppliers built up over years, qualified and checked - some amazing, some good, some that need careful management - if we give the details we are endorsing the supplier even though they may not be the one we would choose for your specific need…

So for all these reasons, we don’t give out supplier details. If you think we’ve got it wrong, talk to us.

* We hate commission generally because we believe that it creates a fundamentally doubting culture in the supply-chain, wherever possible, we will negotiate a preferred rate instead.*

Joanne Madeley