How to find new suppliers you can trust

It’s a difficult time for construction companies, as many are finding their projects continue to be disrupted by ongoing staff, materials and transportation shortages. And recently, sub-contractor availability has dropped significantly, which means many contractors are struggling to find suppliers to help them deliver their projects1.


If your business is one of those that are searching the dwindling pool of available suppliers, it could be tempting to award contracts without taking the time to fully consider whether they’re the right supplier for your business. But in the current environment, it’s never been more important to ensure that you can trust your suppliers – you need to know that they will work safely, efficiently and to a high standard, despite the challenges facing the industry.

Because if your supplier doesn’t deliver on their part of the project, then it’s your organisation’s reputation that’s at risk – so make sure you can trust any new suppliers you work with by checking that they can…

Deliver to a high standard

When your company is known for quality work, you need to ensure that your suppliers can deliver to the same high standards. Unfortunately, quality is a significant issue within the construction industry – in fact, it’s estimated that poor quality costs the industry more than the combined profits of all construction companies annually2

If you choose a supplier that doesn’t place as much importance on quality as you do, then you’re likely to find issues with their work. Quality issues could be something fairly harmless, such as unsightly or poorly finished aesthetics, which could be detrimental enough to your organisation’s reputation. But they can also be significant and even life-threatening – for example, ‘value engineering’ led the contractors behind Grenfell Tower to substitute specified, safe cladding with a cheaper, unsafe alternative that led to the deaths of 72 people. 

It’s therefore vital to verify that your suppliers can and do deliver to high quality standards. Look for suppliers that hold quality management certifications like ISO 9001, as this will show you that they have robust quality management systems and processes in place.

Keep everyone safe on-site

It’s your responsibility to provide a safe site for everyone that’s working on it – so you need to check that your suppliers have a strong track record when it comes to health and safety. Because if their team isn’t working in line with health and safety guidelines while they’re on site, then they could put themselves and your own staff at risk of accidents or injuries. 

Every site will have slightly different health and safety processes in place, and every business should have its own health and safety policies, so it’s important to check that a suppliers’ health and safety policy is watertight before you award them a contract. You should also make sure that they provide their staff with regular health and safety training, so that they’re aware of current best practice in terms of keeping themselves and others safe. 

Health and safety standards are so critical that for total peace of mind, it’s worth looking for suppliers that have Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSiP) accreditation. In order to achieve this accreditation, suppliers must meet high standards of safety, and a health and safety expert will review their policies and working practices in order to ensure they’re up to scratch. Choosing an SSiP-accredited supplier can therefore give you the reassurance you need to trust your supplier to work safely on-site.

Remain financially stable

In September 2021, 20 construction firms went into administration – up from 17 in August3.  Unfortunately, materials shortages and price increases, as well as the ongoing issue of late payment in the construction industry, is causing a growing number of suppliers to go out of business. 

It’s therefore crucial to carefully review a supplier’s financial status and security before you sign a contract with them – because if they go bust in the middle of your project, the entire project could be delayed while you find an alternative supplier, and you could lose a significant amount of money. 

To ensure a supplier is financially viable, you should review their accounts before you agree to work with them. This will enable you to analyse their current financial position, and make an informed decision about whether or not they could expose your business to undue risk of financial failure.

Uphold your values

When you work with a supplier, you also need to be able to trust them to work in line with your organisation’s values – and the best way to do this is to check that their values are aligned with your own before you award them a contract.

If sustainability is important to your business – and/or your client – for example, then you should look for suppliers that can demonstrate a clear commitment to sustainability, too. You could therefore give more weight to suppliers that have extensive environmental management policies in place, or those that comply with ISO 14001. 

Or perhaps you – like many of your fellow public and private sector buyers – are looking for suppliers that can help you to provide social value. As different clients have different priorities when it comes to social value, what you’re looking for in your suppliers is likely to change from one project to the next. You need a supplier that’s willing to employ local apprentices on one project, for example, and a supplier that’s a member of the Considerate Constructors Scheme for the next job. If social value is a priority to your client, then you need to ensure it’s a priority for your suppliers too, to increase your chances of winning the contract. 

Find suppliers you can trust with Constructionline

At Constructionline, we pre-qualify all of our Supplier members in a wide range of areas, from their financials and insurances to their environmental and modern slavery policies. And we’ve recently introduced a new social value question set, to help you to find suppliers that can help you to deliver your social value strategy.

As we verify all of our suppliers before they can bid for your jobs, you can rest assured that you can trust them to deliver on your projects. To find out more about how Constructionline can help you to find high-quality suppliers, contact our team here.

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