Join the Debate: What Would You Do in This Situation?

By | June 30, 2016

What would you do in this scenario? A client moves all of its printing to China and you lose all of your work from the company. Several years later, a young “sourcing analyst” contacts you and asks for a quote on an item you haven’t printed for them since 2013. You provide a fair price, which is only $23 more than you priced it three years ago, and he responds that if you can come in under that, you’ll get the job. Other than having steam come out your ears, what would you do?

This is a real-life scenario posted by one print shop owner on an industry discussion board. It sparked a firestorm of responses ranging from “just take the job” to “tell him to go jump in a lake.” Here are a choice few of the responses. What would you do? Let’s hear what you think!

Response initially written by the author of the question as a joke (and not sent):

“Listen, Junior, you’re being paid by your company to get value from your vendors, not the cheapest price. If your firm really wants you to spend your time sourcing a new vendor in order to save $23.74, quit now. If you’re simply doing this because this is the way you think the world works, go to work in the public sector.”

Suggested responses from the board:

“I’m through getting squeezed. I tell people that I add too much value to take a pay cut when they might consider giving me a raise if they examined closely what I actually do for them.”

“If you think there is potentially more business there, bend over backwards. Otherwise, politely decline.”

“The scenario described indicates that it wouldn’t end there. I remember a meeting with a client who surprised me by introducing me to a competitor. He told us that one of us was going to wind up with the order by the end of the meeting and let the haggling begin. I stood up and congratulated my competitor for having won the order. This young ‘sourcing analyst’ is not interested in a meaningful relationship.”

“Take the order and be grateful that he called. Be sure the payment is coming from the USA, by credit card or in advance. You have no relationship with this buyer and you do not know if his culture accepts flea market haggling. This all assumes that you have enough profit in the job to comply with his demands. Don’t take this [too] seriously. Joke with him, disarm him, and have fun with it.”

“Say, ‘Okay, here’s what I am willing to do. I will meet your request with the understanding you give me all the business our company can do for you. We will provide a fair estimate. Better yet, we will provide new ideas. You let us have other opportunities on things we were not doing prior. If so, you got a deal. I will need that in writing. I will even take you out to lunch at Subway.'”

“He has actually spent more than the $23 communicating with you in the first place. A smart sourcing analyst would simply place the order and work with you on the larger projects where he can add value and provide you, the supplier, with greater opportunities.”

“I would recommend taking the order, especially being an exact repeat with minimal work required. Give him the price he wants (I assume you are still making some decent margin?). Work to build the relationship—it can be done. Being an out of the USA customer, I would want confirmation of payment as well.”

“If it were me, I would charge him an extra 50%. I like to call it a ‘desertion fee’ (although I don’t actually tell the customer [that]; I’m very nice about it and simply advise him the pricing has increased due to one reason or the other). . . Who among us has not had a customer desert us, and then come back? I am serious when I say that my position is they were ingrates when they left, no matter what reason they give. My customers cannot find a better advocate than I am (that may sound like arrogance, but I say it’s the truth). So, if that’s the case, I am not letting them back in without a penalty. I have done this numerous times, and to some of my biggest clients. They deserved it, and took their punishment.”

“I happen to love your response, and it honestly, I would just soften it up a bit and send it! Your point about taking the time to find a vendor that your company has never used before for this is dead on. They will spend more then the $23.00 in artwork fees to set [it] up! Oh… and when I say soften it up a bit, just remove the word ‘Junior.’”

“I agree it is well said. Just take the emotion/Junior out of it.”

It was interesting to see some people saying to send the original response, but softened a bit, while others said no, no! Don’t hit the send button! This reflects just how differently different people in management roles see situations like this.

So . . . what would YOU do?

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One thought on “Join the Debate: What Would You Do in This Situation?

  1. Mitch Bogart

    “It is gladdening to hear that your company recognizes the advantages of returning to us, a quality, responsive, and proven vendor that has served you so well in the past. We look forward to serving you again and re-establishing that relationship. As our top quality has long been established, we understand that you are making the decision specifically for this job mainly on price. As we wish to continue the excellent relationship our companies have enjoyed, we will do the job for the exact price we quoted three years ago. This lets us both pick up where we left off, notwithstanding that our costs have increased in the interim. Along with this goes the understanding that you will give us increased business in all that we can provide for you, and we will provide superlative work at a fair price. If this is your desire as well, let’s go do it!”

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