Most business owners turn to outside resources for their many different business needs. Printing, accounting services, marketing, web design and much more are provided by “vendors” (aka business resources; more on that later!)

There are many different options and it can be difficult figuring out with whom to work. The competition for business in most categories is fierce.

Here are four tips to help you find the right vendors for your business:

Do they have specific experience doing the type of work that you need or is this their maiden voyage? In many cases it is essential that your supplier have comprehensive experience doing exactly what you need to have done, either because the learning curve is too steep or because their lack of experience will require you to micro-manage the work much more closely than you want or have the time to do. Make certain to be very specific when asking about their work experience and in all cases, obtain references too.

Select a vendor that specifically works with businesses of your size. You may be flattered when a company that usually works with much larger clients decides to take on your business but it may not be the best thing for you. Being a small fish in a much larger pond means that your work might slip through the cracks or possibly be handled by a very junior person with little experience and new to the company itself.

How do they compare on price?  Even if price is not a major determinant it is always a good idea to do a cost comparison between suppliers. Be wary about the least cost provider and find out how they will produce the work without cutting any corners. Do they work on a much smaller profit margin, have lower operating expenses or is there a significant difference in the quality of their work compared to the other vendors that you are considering.

Who will be your key contact? Many firms send in the “big guns” when closing business and in many cases he or she will have nothing to do with the day-to-day implementation of the work. Ask your supplier about the chain of command. Do you have one key contact or will you need to jump through hoops in order to get the information you need.

One last thing – the relationship that you have with your vendors is important to the wellbeing of your business. It might be time to start thinking of them as your business resources. This very simple turn of phrase can change up the dynamics of the relationship and prompt you and your resource to look at the business bond differently.