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I’m getting married soon. The countdown clock is ticking and I try not to hyperventilate every time I think about it. It’s not that I don’t want to get married; it’s just that there is so much to do. Too many moving parts, you could say.
But despite the insanity of planning a destination wedding, there has been my fiancé through it all. Always willing to pitch in, come up with ideas, and give me a much-needed reality check. It’s nice having a partner through it all, right?
Then, being the workaholic that I am, I realized something. Through all the wedding madness that has consumed my life, there is an analogy somewhere in here, likely in a semi-packed box next to the random changes to make everyone happy and the endless gifts and just “stuff.”
You’re Not Getting Married… Just Me
Alright, this analogy is not about marrying a manufacturer and “until death do you part.” No, what I’m getting at is a partner. Someone that can be whatever you need throughout the whole process.
As you can see where this is going, here are 7 things my fiancé has done for me and what a supplier should do for you – to be that perfect partner.
You need to have a conversation and work together. From deciding where the wedding will take place to who to invite, you have to work together.
It’s the same when working with a supplier, from designing a custom piece from scratch to kitting the desk accessories with other products; it’s nice to have someone with experience and knowledge to provide insightful input.
I didn’t know that his best man’s girlfriend was vegan, so his knowledge about the guests and other vital aspects was essential. That’s the same when working with an agency-style manufacturer; they can provide creative and expert advice. This can be from what looks good together to asking questions you might not have thought about, such as if the plaque recipients work in cubicles and need special backers and mounts.
Furthermore, collaborating with your client and manufacturer means you’re more likely to find the perfect balance, getting into the DNA of the brand while still hitting all of the project parameters.
2. Be Creative
Did you know that you’re supposed to give gifts to wedding attendees? Well, as I’m wracking my brains on what in the world to do that’s beach-themed, my fiancé came up with an idea. Using shells I’ve collected through the years. We then worked together and developed a plan.
That’s the point of a good partner. You can go to your manufacturer with a vague idea, like a bell curve, they can ask questions and provide ideas, and then together you can develop the perfect project.
A partner inspires creativity and helps you grow. Thus, find a supplier that can do what seems impossible, creating a completely unique and custom piece for all your needs. As well as, being a creative problem-solver when necessary.
3. Take on Some Elements
I can’t do everything all by myself. Sometimes it’s good to delegate. For someone like me, that’s near impossible, but it’s the wisest thing to do. What makes it easier is having a partner I can trust.
In the case of a manufacturer and distributor relationship, it’s nice when a distributor can trust a manufacturer to take certain elements of the project and run, such as creative design, data administration, packaging, client website re-ordering, warehousing, and kitting, to name a few.
I know it’s a weight off my shoulders, I’m sure it is for you too.
There are so many addresses. Have I mentioned that his family is huge? So, I have spreadsheet upon spreadsheet of names, family members, and addresses.
Thankfully, my fiancé knows who these people are, but he also reviews for correctness.
As a distributor, wouldn’t it be nice if a manufacturer could help you with the names, addresses, and other data? Companies like Bruce Fox, where personalization is the name of the game, deal with hundreds of thousands of products each year, which requires a robust data management platform. Thus, years ago, a proprietary system was created that’s constantly evolving to manage all that data. It’s called FoxTrot (Transactional Recipient Order Tracker), a programmed database for receiving, storing, scrubbing, and linking recipient data seamlessly throughout operations. FoxTrot maintains the integrity of critical data and feeds it into the production and outbound shipping systems in proper sequence for flawless execution of accurately-inscribed products.
If only I had a system like that, things would have taken a lot less time. I would just have had to make sure “Rusty” was Reginald and “Babs” was actually spelled out to be Barbara, then I’d be set. But that’s the benefit of working with a company that goes the extra mile.
5. Reality Check
With the impending doom of a deadline, I tend to have “freak out” times. I know I’m not the only one. It’s easy to forget that there’s a schedule and everything is fine as long as the boxes are checked by certain dates.
That’s where a good partner comes in.
“Yes, everything is on schedule per the specifications. “
“Yes, we’ll check on that for you. “
“Settle down, Kristina, we have a plan in place and you submitted your order early for a reason. Everything is going according to plan.”
“Here is the shipping number so you can track your order as it’s on its way to you, on time.”
*Cough, cough* this might or might not be a little too similar to conversations I’ve had. *Cough, cough* But don’t you think it’s unusually similar to a conversation between a supplier and distributor, too? It’s good to have a partner throughout the process that soothes your fears and tells you when you’re getting a tad zealous.
6. Storage and a Little Extra
We’re waiting to move in together after marriage. I know we’re crazy. Everything is happening all at once. So, in the meantime, his place and my place have turned into places of storage. I have all the bridal shower gifts and he, well, he has the big furniture like our new bedroom suite. I still haven’t decided who got the better deal out of this.
Either way, he will store our stuff and then move it when ready. That’s what a good partner does. They can store the products, package, kit, and even ship. One that can add in those t-shirts and hats with the personalized letter and custom packaged award. A partner offers what they can to make your life a little easier and offer those extra services. Thank goodness, right?
7. A Friend
A partner is supportive but honest; always there to help if there’s an issue. If something happens to the shipment or if I realize that I accidentally sent the old guest list, then my partner is just an email or phone call away.
But what’s nice about a friend is that they’re honest to me and I can be honest to them. I can be upfront that I’m going to be late by a day or two with approvals because I’ve been busy and they can be honest with me if there was a freak storm that shut down the plant for a day and they’re now behind a day. Being transparent, friendly, understanding, and helpful is a sign of a trusted friend. I know that I can call my fiancé and have a helping hand. Shouldn’t you be able to have that confidence, if you find out from your client that the program name has changed– just minutes after you approved the proof? Yes, everyone should feel like they have a friend to call.
A partner is someone that can be your support and can help you throughout the whole process but still can be a friend, telling you that you’re freaking out when you don’t need to. Every distributor should have a partner like that.
Do you have a partner that you can rely on? Tell us what makes them special in the comments!
Want to more crazy analogies and left-field thoughts? Check out our blog! Dave and I tend to have a few entertaining stories with some good points blended in with various degrees of effectiveness. Also, follow our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. We post frequently and you might find some interesting tidbits of fun or education on there, too. Enjoy!
Kristina Mobley is your friendly neighborhood Marketing Specialist at Bruce Fox, Inc., which means she is the person behind the keyboard for the social media, emails, website, and other marketing efforts. She’s new to Bruce Fox, but is an Indiana native. In her spare time, you’ll find her plotting her next road trip, bobbing along to music while crafting, with her nose in a book, or spending time with loved ones.