A good ad/marketing/design company is NOT an island, it's rather an Archipelago with the surrounding islands being their suppliers - printers, photographers, copy writers etc etc. Now obviously some companies will have, employed full-time copy writers and photographers (maybe) but not printers and the list is expansive for all the types of services and products that agencies supply.
The relationship with your suppliers is key and should be seen more as a symbiotic relationship, where trust and support are both mutual. It's no good if you're producing this great brochure, with stunning imagery and copy that melts like butter on the tongue, if it gets printed like a dogs dinners, with flat colours and binding where the pages start to drop out after a week. Understanding that you don't know everything and listening to suppliers for advice can and does massively enhance the service and end product provided to the client.
Some organisations advocate sending out to multiple companies each time there is a quoting opportunity and then using the cheapest option, this can be very destructive, with the supplier treating each job with minimal lip service as they know they might get 1 out of 10 quotes. This leads to the client receiving a job that was never quite as good as it could have been. Now I know that this may seem a bit of a throw away comment, but it is merely intended to indicate that spending time and building trust with a select group of suppliers can have far more benefit than our current economic climate might suggest.
I think all suppliers should be rigorously tested and checked before you use them and by this I mean visiting and meeting with them, looking at the facilities, finding out what they do and don't offer, speaking to some of their existing clients, checking their credit history etc. Then once you've selected them I then believe you can start to build a solid foundation for the future, the benefits can be anything from receiving specialist honest advice (no hidden agenda's), quick turnaround on jobs when you're up against it, going that extra mile to get the job done, this could be doing that extra thing that was never quoted on etc. In return you stay loyal to that supplier, provide the work to them because you KNOW you're in safe hands and that the job will always get delivered and look great.
So Suppliers - What are they all about? At the end of the day, they are a cog in a wheel that not everyone pays attention to, until that machine breaks, they're like the AA (the 4th emergency service), they help your company deliver a better end product to your client which in turn emphasises the need for our industry, which in turn keeps us all in bread and jam sandwiches. Google+