You run a thriving business and you’re proud of your service or product – and reputation. But do you feel like your business misses out on opportunities from time to time? Or are your clients increasingly challenging you to prove that you live up to a certain standard?
While SSIP is a baseline for health and safety for some industries and trades, client demand is pushing more and more towards others areas of compliance in Environmental, Social and Quality, as all of us become more aware of the impact of our choices.
So the question is this: What is your business telling the world? And is saying nothing about your sustainability and ethical practices hurting your chances when you put in a tender? How do supply chain managers view your business?
How does my next client see me?
Let’s be honest here – if you have been in business for decades, it can seem frustrating, almost insulting, to suddenly feel like you are under the spotlight. Particularly when you have a great deal of pride in how you carry out your role or run your business.
But here’s the issue. Public perception is changing, society is changing. And that’s reflected in how companies think about the businesses they work with. Whether it’s a desire to do the right thing, increase efficiencies, or avoid the type of scandal that we increasingly see reported in the media, major companies are putting their supply chains under increasing scrutiny.
So what does this mean for you? The worst case scenario is a future client passes you by because they don’t understand your levels of awareness on range of compliance topics. In short, they could potentially see your business as too risky. Alternatively, they do consider your company but at the end of the day your competitors are a step ahead and have the necessary safety verifications. Again, you get passed by.
This goes back to the point about what your business is telling the world. You may have solid processes and practices in place, but if you’re not telling anyone about it, you are effectively silent in a world where everyone else is speaking.
So what exactly does my client want to see from my business?
You’ll find that clients will increasingly request that your business demonstrates its levels of understanding of these issues as a requirement to work together. They’re looking through various lenses, wanting to know that you follow correct procedures to protect their reputation.
Firstly, health & safety is critical. Secondly, your clients will want to know that your insurance is adequate and bang up-to-date – so if something goes wrong with your product or service their liability could be reduced.
While you’re confident your business provides an excellent service or product, you do not want to risk being perceived as ‘old hat’ or simply ineligible for potential new business because you’re not showing your level of compliance on a number of key areas.
Do not let your clients perceive any risk in your partnership. Show them where you are on your journey to compliance, that you’re committed to minimising risk, aiming for the highest standards and investing in your relationship. Don’t let a client rule your business out or default to your closest competitor because you haven’t got your house in order.
So now is the time to understand the wider topics around health and safety and ethical best practices. While ideas of modern slavery may seem a long way off for your family business, or even for a compliance manager or director at a medium-sized organisation, it’s about demonstrating the standards that your business keeps.
And think about GDPR. Every business, however small, has a lot of data flying around these days. Are you compliant with the latest regulations? Gathering all of this paperwork in one place and having that independent stamp of approval on it sets you on the right track to a future where sustainability and ethics are front of mind for everyone.
Okay, so how can my business really stand out?
One very effective way your business can stand out from the competition is to become verified by a trusted authority in the industry. Tell the world about how you do business. You apply through an impartial body to demonstrate that you comply with required standards.
If you choose the right verification partner, you can save time and effort on every tender from your existing clients, with your clients gaining that all-important visibility to help them assess compliance across their supply chain.
And then what happens?
Becoming verified brings a raft of benefits with it. It’s a robust way of improving your new business chances by displaying your standards. Verification helps to remove some of the hurdles that can stand in the way of tendering opportunities, a place on a supplier roster, or simply on-boarding with new clients.
Showcasing your business capabilities through verification shows that your business can stand up against the compliance criteria that larger businesses adhere to. Put simply – it can give you the chance to punch above your weight and compete with bigger competitors in the supply chain.
It also brings with it a host of efficiencies for your business. It shines a light on your internal processes to help you identify how and where you can make improvements. And it significantly streamlines the process of tendering or completing compliance information for pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQ) by reducing time and resources.
By validating your capabilities you can:
- Stand out from the crowd – to gain a competitive edge
- Open up new business opportunities – by making your business easier to work with
- Attract new employees – by showing that you run a responsible business
- Mitigate risk – by ensuring your processes and position on topics align with EHSQ compliance factors
- Enhance your operations and efficiency – improve processes to reduce costs and drive productivity
- Draft more effective bids – create cost savings and efficiencies by reducing your investment in multiple PPQs and tenders with clients searching for businesses like yours
- Streamline compliance information – through one digital form annually to ensure that you’re bid-ready
Thinking six tenders ahead
Your current clients may start asking for certain verifications. Your future clients definitely will. The time is now to get ahead of this, and get ahead of your competitors. Select a verification scheme that is robust and competent for today, and connected into the changing demands for the future.
About the Author
Dale Jones is a qualified H&S practitioner and quality manager with over 20 years of experience working with supply chain products. As Technical Director at Alcumus, he specialises in third party assessment and supply chain assurance solutions.