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November 02, 2015

We speak to our Business Development Team at Stevensons, to get their top ten tips on changing uniform and sportswear suppliers:

1. Good planning is essential - Give your existing supplier as much notice as possible to any stock write-offs. Notice periods will depend on your contract, but October or November of the preceding year should be fair.

2. Set up a focus group - Steer the changeover of your uniform or sports kit using an appointed co-ordinator, but keep the group small to enable speedy decision-making.

3. Allow plenty of time - Consultations and sampling for uniforms can take typically two to four months, although just changing your sportswear could be significantly quicker.

4. Select a reputable, helpful and capable supplier - They should provide product samples as standard, rather than expect you to sign off design styles on paper. You should always sign-off on actual garment samples, as you just can’t gauge quality and fit from a drawing.

5. Agree a switch over date which builds in a changeover period - Commonly 24 months should be adequate for a supplier to run off their stock. It also gives parents extended value from their existing uniform or sports kit. 

"A good supplier will support you every step of the way through the selection process."

- Stevensons

6. Take advantage of your supplier’s knowledge - The choice of fabrics, an understanding of manufacturing processes and the ability to deliver the necessary supply chain options, are all essential to guide your decisions. A good supplier will support you every step of the way through the selection process.

7. Ensure your prospective supplier is financially sound - They need to have the resources to hold sufficient stock of your uniform all year; otherwise it will cause disruption to both schools and parents. (If in doubt ask to see the supplier’s accounts).

8. Check potential suppliers already serve schools of your calibre - Work with a supplier who already services schools of a like reputation; they will understand the product quality, range of items and the level of service you expect. 

9. Ask prospective suppliers to demonstrate their Service Level Agreement performance - Outstanding service is key to successful school/supplier partnerships, so make sure they can substantiate the service they deliver to other customers.

10. Compare like-with-like when evaluating prices - Weigh-up the whole package when making decisions rather than the garment prices in isolation. This can drive down the quality of the overall package.

With over 90 years' experience of providing unparalleled service and products, Stevensons are perfectly positioned to make the changeover of suppliers less painful than you originally thought.  

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