Reputation is Everything: How To Research a Company Before You Do Business With Them
Posted on May 4, 2014
Your reputation as a company is everything. So it is with anyone you do business with. Any reputable company is concerned with it. Yet, at the same time, scam artists aren’t. Ideally, you would only do business with reputable companies, but figuring out is reputable and who isn’t isn’t always easy. Even when you find a legit company, that doesn’t mean that they will be competent.
There are many companies out there that are just average. If you think about it, most companies are average. They have to be. That’s the meaning of “average.” It’s the above-average companies you want to work with. Here’s how to discover them.
Do Basic Research
First things first. Do your research. Start with basic research first, like figuring out where the company’s HQ is, who the controlling officers are, and how long they’ve been in business. Once you’ve done that, kick things up a notch. Companies, like Business Profiles, allow you to gain deep insights into a company. Find out all the dirt that’s public information – like government documents and reports. You can even discover otherwise hard-to-find inside information about corporate officers.
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Now, once you have all of this information, you can use it to figure out what kind of company you’re dealing with, whether you think it’s worth working with the sales reps, or whether you think you should pass on them.
What Do You Think Of The Company’s Products and Services?
Background information isn’t enough, obviously. That’s why it should be used to figure out more about the company. Take a company’s product line, for example. Examine it in the context of whatever you learn about the company through a background profile check.
How do you feel about the company’s products and services? How do you like using them? Have you ever used something similar in the past? Do you know others that have used them? What do those other people have to say?
Try to get as much information about the quality of the company’s products and services as you can. Investigate suppliers and distributors. Try to contact the QA department, if possible.
Do They Pay Their Bills On Time?
Does the company pay its bills on time? Why would you want to know this? Because it can tell you a lot about the integrity of a company. If a company pays its bills on time, it shows a commitment to its financial responsibilities – that’s a very good thing. It means that it’s more likely to make good on its promises in other areas.
If it doesn’t pay its bills on time, is deeply in debt, or misses manufacturing, shipping, or quality guidelines, deadlines, and benchmarks, then that’s a red flag. It might be time to move on to a different supplier, customer, or vendor.
Ask About Previous Partnerships
Ask the company about its previous partnerships. Just ask who its previous partners were. Then, do your own digging on the partner. Don’t raise any red flags with the company by probing about the relationship. Just find out who they’ve done business with in the past.
Then, go around and investigate the partners’ background. See what you can dig up. Sometimes, skeletons hide in odd places. For example, you may discover that a company is hiding a major debt default behind a partner or sister company. Sometimes, companies do that. They run into financial trouble but, instead of publicizing it, they shuffle the debt off to a partner or sister company and then file for bankruptcy.
The main company looks great. The other company is left in ashes.
Check out the company’s vendors and clients. See what they have to say about the company that wants your business.
Read reviews about the company you’re about to do business with. You want to know what other people are saying, and sites like Yelp are a great place to find out. Google Places is another good one. Just keep in mind that negative marketing can take place on these sites.
In other words, sometimes, competitors can pay people to write fake bad reviews. It’s dishonest. It’s deplorable. But, it happens. Here’s how to ferret out the real negative reviews. Try to contact the users who posted a bad review and interview them. This will be easier if it’s a company that left a bad review, but individual users are often reachable through the review site via a private messaging system.
Steven Patterson’s business acumen is well-known in his community. With years of experience, he often blogs about his insights into running a business in today’s world.