October 15, 2021
You’ve got to make an order for some promotional merch. Whilst you may be the organised type who generally gets things done in plenty of time, there’s always going to be those occasions when something lands on your plate at the last minute. You find yourself in a hectic rush and worrying that things just aren’t going to get done. Promotional products + fast turnaround = stress. We know – we’ve all been there.
As B2B suppliers of branded products we work to tight client deadlines all the time, so know all the things that can prevent last minute orders from going smoothly. Here’s our top tips to follow to ensure your order goes without a hitch next time you’re in a rush:
1. Contact suppliers by phone, not email or web chat
We understand that sending a bunch of emails out to a variety of suppliers and waiting to see who comes back you can seem convenient, but when it comes to making a last minute order, you need to get into contact with suppliers directly by telephone if you can. Why? Because it’s a whole lot quicker. When timing is tight a few hours can make the difference between it being possible to meet a deadline or not. Identify who you want to use and start calling. And web chat is not the same as calling – it will take you much longer to type a conversation (and it won’t be as fluid). Time is precious, use it wisely.
2. Clearly communicate your deadline from the outset
No supplier likes finalising an order to then find out the deadline is the next day! Honesty is key – you’ll waste far less time if companies can quickly tell you ‘no can do’ before you’ve invested too much time explaining the project to them – you need to move on quickly to a company that can work to your timescale. Drawing out the process with the first company you contact in the hope that you can persuade them to rush your order through once they know all the juicy details isn’t a wise move – it’s just going to make the process a whole lot longer.
3. Go to your tried and trusted suppliers first
Do you have a supplier that has met your needs before and earned glowing reviews from you? If they haven’t let you down in the past, and you have a great relationship with them, it’s a good sign that they won’t let you down in the future. If you’re a regular customer you might even be able to pull a ‘favour’ and get those products a little bit quicker than might be usual. Even if the products you’re after seem a little out of their remit, there is no harm in asking the question – we’ve supplied gift sets with t-shirts, chocolate bars, playing cards, laptop cases and mugs – even though none of those products are on our website! If it’s not something they can source, they may know another company that can help and give you a recommendation.
4. If you have to use a new supplier, select them carefully
Using someone who really knows what they are doing is essential when timing is tight, so start by looking for specialist/niche suppliers – like a notebook specialist for notebooks perhaps ;-). Look at their website carefully of course, but do remember, anyone can create a lovely looking website. You need to be a bit smarter: what about customer reviews – are they 5 star? Who have they worked for – can you see evidence of the products rather than just seeing the names listed on their website (not everyone is honest!). Do they look like a “human” company, where you can talk to real people and not robots? After all, if you’re looking for a rush job there’s no point in discussing it with an automated chat pop up. Once you’ve performed a quality check and chosen a supplier, make sure you have your credit card on standby in order to pay upfront and quickly as possible, if necessary.
5. Ensure your artwork is ready and your key team is on standby
Regardless of your relationship with the supplier, they’ll need to see your artwork/designs before they can be sure they commit to a deadline. If your artwork still needs to be finalised let them know that at the outset and be clear when it will be ready – as most people will say they can meet a deadline assuming that you’re ready to go and that you’ll be responsive in signing off costs and designs. So make sure the people doing your artwork and approving costs and designs are all on standby. And if you’re an agency working for a client you need to make sure your client has all their people in place if they’ll need to approve things.
6. Be open to ideas and flexible on your requirements
When an order is a rush, you won’t necessarily have the luxury of all product or design options to choose from, so you must be prepared to compromise. You might have to choose a product that isn’t your exact Pantone match, or opt for a neutral shade. If you’re handling an order for a client, then you need to ensure that you clearly communicate this to your client, to ensure that they don’t end up disappointed.
7. Be positive and polite at all times
Granted, this is something you should do all the time and it sounds like a no-brainer, but when the pressure is on, people can sometimes become what they dislike in others without realising it. Remember suppliers do want to help, and will do their very best to make it work, a little politeness and positivity goes a long way when it comes to building a good relationship – you’ll much more likely to get what you want!
8. Make sure you’re easy to reach
Particularly with last minute orders, your supplier is going to want to make sure that they can reach you on a frequent or emergency basis, so it’s not helpful for you to be out of reach. If you know that you are going to be difficult to contact, make sure that you can provide the contact details for a colleague who knows about the project and can answer any questions or make decisions.
9. Don’t settle for low quality
Don’t do the business equivalent of a last minute petrol station gift dash! – no one will thank you for it. Your brand’s image and reputation matters – it may be better to have nothing at all than something that looks cheap. If you really can’t find something that is suitable (even after being flexible) then just accept it’s too late to get products and work around it.
So, there you have it; our 9 top tips to help you conquer last minute orders without breaking a sweat.
Having done as many rush orders as we’ve had hot dinners, if you need some high quality promotional products in a hurry why not give us a try? Branded notebooks are our speciality, but as you already know if you’ve been paying attention (!), we can create gift packages with various other branded products too.
Visit our gallery for inspiration and then call us (!!!!) on +44 (0)1303 720700 to speak to one of our knowledgeable and friendly team members today.