Let’s imagine I’m the procurement manager at a mid-sized UK firm. We have a couple of factories, a warehouse and two offices around Birmingham. We’re not huge, so the procurement function is just me and one assistant. At the moment, each of our premises has a different cleaning contract and different firm delivering the service. Time for a bit of rationalisation, I think. I don’t know much about cleaning as a category, to be honest, so let’s try the number one search engine.
I enter “Cleaning services Birmingham”.
“About 1,980,000 results”, it tells me. OK, don’t think I have time to work through all of those.
There seem to be quite a few “marketplaces” coming up on the page, advertising individual cleaners for hire. That is fine for domestic work, but not industrial. “Capet cleaning in Northampton” says one result – not quite what we want. Now, this listing looks more interesting. Definitely an industrially-focused firm. But when I click through, their website does not exactly fill me with confidence. I quote:
“The importance of a super clean environment is very much and not overlooked either.”
So let’s try adding “office” to the search term. That helps somewhat in terms of relevance, but the number actually goes up to 2,020,000 results! Now I have a plethora of choices, but it is still not clear which really service Birmingham, or just claim to do so, and finding out some useful information about them requires lots of clicks to search through their websites. And if I want to take matters further, then more searching is necessary to find contact details and email addresses.
Is it any surprise that many procurement people – and organisations – just stick with current suppliers, often for longer than they really should? Yet finding the best suppliers, whatever the size of your organisation, really should be at the heart of the procurement role. Indeed, if procurement is not about identifying and then contracting with the best suppliers – then what is it for? But finding those suppliers is still a lot harder than perhaps it should be!
Not for reproduction