If you’re going to start an IT business that deals with hardware, finding a reliable hardware vendor is a must. There are plenty of options out there, from tech giants to smaller firms. So how do you find the one that works best for your business?
How to Choose a Hardware Vendor
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Learn All About the Product
Hardware can be a major investment for any business. So you want to make sure that the technology is going to hold up and continue to support your business for the long run. Don’t just go off of brand name or shiny new features — really dig deep into the product and learn about all of the features and components before making a commitment.
Research the Company
Of course, it’s also important to consider the company behind the hardware. How long have they been in business? Do they have a reputation for providing strong products and supporting their buyers? Have a conversation with each vender you’re considering and look into testimonials or other unbiased sources of info as well.
Consider Your Particular Needs
Just because a vendor supplies quality hardware doesn’t mean it’s the right option for your business. You should have a good handle on your market and your company’s particular needs before you start your search so you can narrow the options to those that specifically fit with what you’re trying to accomplish.
Ask About Support
When it comes to selecting a vendor, it’s not just about buying a product one time. You are likely to be in constant communication with them, so you need to know that they’re going to be available to answer questions and provide help to your team when necessary.
Build Strong Relationships
In fact, a vendor that really focuses on creating relationships with buyers can be invaluable. Look for those that prioritize clients and dedicate resources to communicating with your team and supporting your operations. This can be especially important when something goes wrong.
Dan Goldstein is the director of marketing for GMS Live Expert, a 24/7 Outsourced Help Desk and NOC for MSPs. He said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “From a general vendor perspective, the value of a partnership is never more apparent than when things don’t go as planned.”
It can be easy for some IT pros to fall in love with a particular piece of technology and just go with the first option you come across based on instinct. But choosing a hardware vendor is a very important business decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. So even if you think you’ve found the right match, consider at least a handful of options so you can compare them and potentially gain some leverage in negotiations.
Create a Budget
Of course, you also need to have a specific budget in mind for your hardware. It’s a good idea to go over all of your finances and projections prior to negotiating with specific vendors so you know your ideal prices and what you can potentially afford.
But Don’t Stress About Price
However, Goldstein says that it’s usually worth paying a bit more for a vendor with strong support and relationship management. So don’t just automatically choose the lowest price if it’s going to lead to extra work and headaches for your team.
Get a Bit Creative
Though choosing a single source of hardware can often be helpful for continuity and can sometimes get you a better deal, it isn’t always a must. If you can’t find a single vendor that fits all of your needs, consider negotiating partial contracts with multiple companies. This could allow you to get a feel for how each one operates and makes it easy to switch to one if you decide to do so in the future.
Evaluate Vendors Constantly
Once you choose a vendor, you don’t have to stick with them for life. After each contract period or whenever it makes sense for your business, take a look at the relationship you have with your vendor and the performance of the hardware so you can decide if they’re still the best option for your business.
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