I chose this profession of buyer because I wanted to be really useful to the company that would employ me, selecting the best in ethics, respecting budgets, but also giving a chance to some. But since this COVID crisis, I see things that are becoming more and more unbearable. Thus, I received instructions to lower our suppliers’ prices on the pretext of the crisis. While our company, on the contrary, benefited from this crisis by posting record profits. And I feel increasingly uncomfortable putting pressure on suppliers who are already on edge.
What do you recommend ?
You have raised the point which is the real and most frequent reason for giving up high potentials. And here it is no longer a question of salary, but of morals.
When morality gets involved
Companies often place their value letter, which talks about transparency, fairness, respect, etc. In short, only very beautiful things… on paper. And one of its biggest problems is ensuring that these values are well applied in the field and on a daily basis. However, a value cannot “apply” because it is decided. It is lived, it is an intimate conviction that guides our steps and filters our decisions between good and evil.
But if crises can reveal to us what is most beautiful in us, they can also make us discover a much less glorious aspect. So, unfortunately, your company is not alone in reacting this way. And that has nothing to do with the fact that this crisis has been so beneficial to them (where there are losers there are also winners, that is logical) but although they have adopted an incoherent speech between their actions and their “proclamations of intent” . Thus, on the one hand, it claims its “citizenship”, “its benevolent generosity” and, on the other hand, imposes a “target price” of minus 40% on suppliers. It’s a matter of morality.
Best Supplier Award
Morality, which according to Larousse concerns “the rules of conduct practiced in a society, particularly in relation to the concepts of right and wrong”. And when a company imposes amoral decisions, there are those who obey and those who resist. I like you. If it is very easy to delete a row in an Excel table representing a supplier that refused these prices, it is a little less when decision makers know the person and the history of their company and they even participated to make it known. We are in a world of images, clicks and filters. So why not use that leverage?
Your company will certainly be very happy to announce in the media that it is one of the few (or even the first) to show its suppliers (and this according to its value letter) by organizing an annual award for the most responsive, innovative supplier or that has provided remarkable added value. This “innovative” action can reduce the appetite for margin.
The clay pot against the iron pot
Making your suppliers known (and their added value) to your company’s decision-makers can make them realize that it is certainly important to negotiate their purchases in the best possible way (and that you are there for that), but that profit is not makes sense when the best suppliers go bankrupt. And that, on the contrary, “walking the talk” when they call them “partners” will drive them to give even more and better and improve their “corporate brand” to which they are so attached.
By dint of “bathing” in the procedures of a company, some end up confusing them with an absolute truth that ends any debate that dares to question it.
From your position, you can hardly act on these decisions. But you can still bring in these “bosses” to consider the problem from another angle. How to argue the estimated cost of finding another supplier that accepts (once) these low prices to enter your business, the impossibility (in some cases) of finding exactly the same quality, availability, knowledge of your needs with this defined price. In short, just remind them that savings can sometimes cost us dearly. It will also be able to help suppliers who have given up accepting these prices, granting them payment terms of less than 60 days that become 90 (see much more) between orders that arrive 3 months after delivery and validation circuits that resemble a long obstacle course.
In short, you will be able to “find some arrangements”, but will you be able to do so over time?
This is the real question to ask… And it’s up to you to find the answer.
Your turn !