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Walmart confusing

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:54 am
by dirk2113
ok so i just started a sweeping business and i wanted to get the Walmarts in my area. I went in and talked with the manager and he said that if i am approved for a vendor number that he'll hire me. So he gave me the website and i filled out the questionaire and mailed it in. I just got an email today saying that i have to go talk to the manager and he will give me a electronic invitation if he wants to hire me. but i still don't have a vendor number. confused? has anyone had to go through the vendor number process that can give some advice. thanks.

Re: Walmart confusing

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:08 am
by Tom_in_CA
I can't help you on the purchasing protocol of Walmart in general. It seems that if they'd called YOU (instead of you cold-calling them), then they'd have had their purchasing procedure ready. Back when I used to do shopping centers, we just waited for the calls for bid requests. To do otherwise, to me, seems remiscent of phone solictors (whom we all hang up on, right?) But I feel for you. How else is someone supposed to start a business from scratch? I got out of the shopping centers/night stuff, d/t too many people practically giving it away, lowballing each other, etc..... Moved to the construction/paving/big sweeper market.

But to interupt an existing contract (under-bid whoever/however they're doing it now?) puts you in a position of having to convince some busy store manager to go through bureaucratic hoops. Not an inviting scenario.

And unfortunately, cost sells in that market, not quality. So the guy who flies through, not blowing out island corners, not blowing out truck docks, not slowing down for broken glass, and thus being able to bid for 20 minutes work (verses 1 hr. to do it correctly) will get the bid. You can go in there and talk quality, and yes .... you will get lip service on "that's what we want". But believe me, the low bid will win, and they won't pay attention to quality.

Hopefully this isn't the case in your area. Perhaps some small-town markets, or some states in the USA that aren't as glutted with illegal labor, it might be worth it to solicit like that. Good luck.

Re: Walmart confusing

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 6:08 am
by I_clean_lots
Okay, that sounded mildly depressing given the fact that we are all part of the industry. I think it speaks to how important it is that we communicate with our local competitors to hopefully drive market prices up and not down. I'm not saying to anyone reading this that we should start charging people what we feel. I am saying that we need to educate each other on things such as pricing to hopefully drive away this low-balling attitude that ultimately drives the entire industry including the low-baller to unemployment.

Moving more to the question that was asked months ago. I recently faced a situation like this with Wal-Mart and Home Depot. In both cases the best place to get some real answers was starting with the divisional manager's office. Normally they are the ones that cause action to take place. However, it does take a little more to get them started. Meaning that the store manager would need to make a complaint first.

Order of action from my experience would go as follows.
- Store Manager files complaint (with some motivation from you of course)
- Get in contact with divisional manager ( introduce your company and find out any information possible)
- Then you would probably be prompted to call corporate if you were successful doing the 1st two, along with sending in your information.

Re: Walmart confusing

Posted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:06 am
by Tom_in_CA
clean-lots, I feel your pain. I have "been there, done that".

For starters, LORD HELP YOU if you talk to your competition, to "educate" each other to stop this suicidal "low balling" (in which no one wins in the end). Because the minute you "communicate" with each other, to get this professional courtesy going, you will risk getting a ... uh... "nice letter" from the district attorney's office that you are accused of bid-rigging, collusion, anti-competitive behavior, etc... And believe me, you can sing and dance all you want that you merely wanted to put an end to the stupid wars, which end up in suffering quality, etc... You will loose. Your competitor, if you were to approach him to try to be "friendly" in such a way, can merely go to the police/DA, and say "I'm being solicited by my competitor to engage in anti-competitive monopolies". They will outfit him with a bug, and have him invite you out to dinner to "discuss this interesting idea of yours". Then when you are caught suggesting you guys "keep your prices up, and stop lowballing each other", they will spring the trap. When I was caught in just such a sting, I tried and tried to put the realistic face you allude to, on it. Ie.: I was just trying to stop playing ping-pong with customers, back and forth, which had turned into a game of spite. But it won't work. The literal letter of the law forbids you from getting chummy like that.

I know, it s*cks. It's almost as if you are REQUIRED to bid against your competitors (even when you don't want to, or don't want to invite return solicitations on your customers). And I learned that even a "wink wink" where you/he doesn't even verbally agree to such rigging, you can STILL be guilty. Afterall, there are, admittedly, board-room meetings between competitors, where, understandibly, the "market can be controlled" with a silent wink wink of persons who know better than to state their intentions openly. For this reason, cases have been prosecuted with only ancedotal evidence, and not recorded or written proof! Ie.: just because prices all seem to "be the same" and buyers can not get a competitor to bid (or to bid lower, etc...) can be proof in and of itself of anti-competitive behavior.

All I can say is "CYA" if you intend to be friendly with a competitor.

But back to your original question: I'd be surprised if you can get a walmart or home depot to change, based on quality. I mean, the present provider would have to be REAL bad (ie.: not even showing up), to get the ball rolling that far. I used to knock myself silly, pulling my hair out, when I'd see jobs that I had bid on, go to a competitor, who quite frankly, flew through like a bat out of hell (no corners, grit and heavy items caking up on edges, etc...). I would return to the manager whom I'd put my bid in with, and say "this isn't what I bid on, so how is that a apples-to-apples bid?" I'd attempt to take them out to the lot, to show them examples of the poor quality. Invariably, the average manager considers such talk to just be "sour grapes". Ie.: because you didn't get the winning bid, you are just now bad-mouthing your competitor. And to the extent you MIGHT be able to convince local store personell they're getting a lousy job, they often-times do one of the following:

1) Just call that provider and complain. The provider may "clean up his act" for a week or so, but invariably, return to speed jobs.

2) Say "ok, let me see your bid". But then they take one look at your price, and figure that .... for the savings, they can put up with the current provider, and just gripe to him more often. I've seen this first hand, over and over.

This is why I would never again enter the night-time-little truck parking lot sweeper business. I hope this isn't true of all other states and locales, but it is true of the market here in CA, as we get flooded with cheap labor from across the border. We got into the more upscale construction, paving, rock, dirt, broom sweeper stuff. Fortunately, it is still semi-professional, and critical (can't get away with slop, breakdowns, non-english speaking drivers, etc...) that it has not gone the way of parking lot sweeping.