It's critical to get detailed and accurate information from each of your vendors before building a list. It's also important to know which types of vendors your company needs most. Remember, this list will be sent out to all purchasing departments within your company so, to make things easier for everyone, you will want to begin by creating a list of the various items your company purchases on a frequent basis.
Begin by thinking through each of the departments in your organization. Do they have specific items that are needed on a daily basis? Include those on your list, then continue to the next department. Finally, think through the items that all departments in your company need. Items frequently needed but often overlooked include office supplies, like printer paper or copier toner. By including suppliers for these items in your vendor list, you can often save a company thousands per year.
Once you have the list of frequently purchased items, you'll want to do your homework and find contact information for multiple vendors that supply each of your needed items. A quick web search will reveal hundreds of suppliers across the country. Expand your search to include out-of-state vendors, as well. They may be able to provide your needed items at a lower cost, including shipping, than some local vendors.
After you have a comprehensive list of 10-15 vendors per category, you will want to create an RFI, or Request For Information, form. This form will include all the information necessary to make an informed purchasing decision. On the form, request the company name, their address and phone number, email information for any key contact people, taxation IDs, payment terms, special pricing for bulk orders, and anything else you feel will be relevant to your business.
Once you have the form complete, send it out to each vendor on your category list, along with a quick letter or email explaining you are currently in the process of building a preferred vendor list. Ask them to complete the form and include anything else they feel would be beneficial if they are interested in being considered.