Buying is hard. You deal with constant demands: maintenance, coworkers, the unknown. Now throw in an AOG and chaos ensues. 

Despite everything you must do, you still have babysit your suppliers. 

Skylink, Aviation, Buyer

Skylink, Aviation, Buyer

There are things your supplier does that annoy you. They're human. Let's identify these top traits and find ways to correct them... 

They over-promise and under-deliver 

You've experienced it. You're told "I can get it done. Don't worry." Yet, when you need your aircraft material your supplier fails to deliver on the promise. Whether it's price, lead time, or additional support. Whatever. 

It's common. You're told one thing and something else happens. Often it's not malicious. But who cares. It still creates a problem for you.

An example of this is when we needed a $65,000 avionic for an upcoming maintenance project. Our supplier told our purchasing team that they could have it completed before our deadline. We followed-up and expedited. The day before the due date our expediting team was told "Sorry guys, I have to cancel." What?! We went into scramble mode. Thanks supplier. 

In order for you to avoid this, and for us in the future, this is what we can do: 

  • When you have an urgent need, make sure you have contingencies in place. 
  • Follow-up often.
  • If something doesn't feel or sound right, begin planning your alternatives. 
  • Have an open and honest discussion with your supplier about what realistically needs to happen. If you can't do that, get a new supplier. 

They're hard to get a hold of

Your calls and emails go ignored. It's frustrating. 

In a world of limitless communication mediums, communication is worse. You send an email and 2 hours pass. Nothing. You call and no answer. You leave a voicemail and no call back. 

There's no reason for this as a repeat or new customer. 

Here's how a recent order went down with one of our suppliers: 

Me: Email - "John Doe, You recently quoted us on ----. I just want to make sure it's still available. Can you confirm please?" Mind you this is a $22,000, FN avionic we're purchasing. 
Me: Phone, 3 hours later - "Hi John, I sent you an email, just wanted to make sure you got it. Please call me back." 
Supplier: Email (Next morning) - "Hi ___, I saw your email. I was just knocking things off my to-do list. We no longer have this unit, but I can go back to the factory and see if I can get another."

Not only did he read my email but he made a decision not to respond even though I made it clear I had to order. Terrible salesmanship. 

To avoid this, work with supplier who has a track record of replying. Especially if you're a repeat customer. You should not be ignored.

Here some things you can take action on today: 

  • Make sure you have your Account Managers mobile #. Or a 24 hour customer service number...not just for AOGs. 
  • They should use Skype, Whatsapp or some other online texting software. Even a website chat that's actually monitored will do. 
  • If they don't reply fast, work with someone else. Don't subject yourself to a poor sales model that hurts your operation.
  • Your supplier should dedicate someone to you. You shouldn't have to talk to someone new every time you need support.

Not telling the full truth to get the order

This is more common than many realize. 

Your supplier may under quote you and take the order and cancel when things don't work out for them. This goes back to the over promising and under-delivering but with a more malicious intent. I see it happen all the time.

You can avoid this by communicating with your supplier and asking questions. Tell them your needs. If you're AOG, they have to be very accurate in the information they give you. If you’re routine, there can be some flexibility. 

Ask questions. By having your questions answered you'll have a better idea of what could happen. Don't just rely on sending a PO. Be active in your procurement. 

Canceling an order without helping to resolve the situation you've just been put in

"I'm sorry, but I have to cancel this order" There’s nothing more annoying than these words. I get it. Things happen. But why am I punished for your issues? Find a solution. 

Suppliers should try and help you resolve the issue. They should give you options or even better, you shouldn't even know there's a problem. They should just handle it. 

The next time your supplier says these famous words, ask them, "So what are you going to do to help me resolve this?" 

Most often, they'll do nothing, but once you find the right material partner who doesn't just bring you problems, but also solutions, keep them and use them often. 

Ships you material that doesn't meet your PO requirements

You buy a NE item and tell your supplier you need OEM certs. You put it on the PO and send it to your rep. The material comes in and it's a NS item with airline trace. Annoying!

It's not like you didn't communicate what you needed. They just missed it and created an issue for you. 

When this happens it's important you have a conversation with your supplier. Something was missed within their workflow. And although we strive for perfection, we miss things as well. 

It's about making things right. We sent some adhesive with 50% shelf life remaining and it's our commitment for a certain customer account that we ship items with at least 80% life remaining. We noticed the problem and made sure we shipped the replacement material international priority as a commitment to our customer. 

When your supplier screws up, have a conversation. It's important they listen

They act like they don't care

You've experienced this. People who act like they don't care. On the phone, in email or even in person. This is one of the only annoyances that can't be fixed. Fire your supplier and find a better one. 

If they don't care about you now they never will. There’s no reason to have to deal with this and there are some great solutions out there for you to take full advantage of. 

Whatever it is, as a buyer there will be things your supplier does that annoy you. Notice them and work on ways to have them fixed. 

Don’t be satisfied with annoyances. 

As a aviation material buyer, what do salespeople do that annoy you? Share your stories in the comments below.