“Buy local and don’t choose price over service” – say businesses in the UK


Feb 10, 2017

A new study has revealed that over three quarters (77%) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK believe it is important to buy local when it comes to purchasing goods and services.  This could be great news for the UK, as the economy strives to reach its pre-recession GDP peak.

The study was carried out by Signs Express, the UK’s largest sign company, which has a franchise sign production centres all over the UK.  Signs Express commissioned an independent research company to poll more than 1000 small and medium sized businesses in the UK. The results show that 77% of business decision makers think it’s important to choose a local supplier when purchasing goods and services.

The top three reasons that businesses gave for choosing local suppliers were:
•“It is better for the local economy” (61%)
•“If I am unhappy, I can approach the supplier easily” (56%)
•“I like dealing with people that play a positive role in my local community” (47%).

The survey also revealed that the majority of those with purchasing power do not believe price is the most important factor when it comes to selecting a supplier.  Three quarters of those surveyed (75%) said that if they believe they are getting good value and service, price is not the most important factor.  Only 3% of businesses in the UK always select the cheapest quote.  

Craig Brown, managing director of Signs Express, says: “A large proportion of Signs Express customers are SMEs and so it’s really important that we understand their priorities when it comes to working with suppliers,” he explains. “We first carried out our ‘SME Expert’ research project in 2011 and, whilst it backed-up some of our opinions, we were really surprised by some of the findings the survey generated.  Three years on, we were keen to see if the picture has changed. Interestingly, whilst we’ve come out of the other side of a recession, for the main part businesses still have the same concerns and bugbears as they did when the UK was at one of its lowest economic points.

“Unsurprisingly, in our opinion, when it comes to selecting a supplier the vast majority of people we surveyed (75%) still believe that value and service are far more important than securing the cheapest quote. In 2011 that figure was actually slightly lower at 71%.” 

Signs Express also asked people in the UK about their biggest frustrations when it comes to dealing with suppliers.  The top four were:

•Hard sell: suppliers trying to push a sale with ‘the offer ends today’ or similar (57%)
•Inexperienced suppliers not being able to answer questions (36%)
•Suppliers not providing a quote as promised (45%)
•Suppliers not turning up for an agreed appointment (33%)

“We were shocked to discover that, in the previous six months, almost half (45%) of those we surveyed had experienced a supplier not providing a quote as promised.  More than a quarter (33%) had waited for a supplier who never turned up for an agreed appointment,” Craig Brown says.

The survey also confirmed that appearances definitely matter when people are choosing a supplier. A massive 98% of business decision makers thought that good quality and attractive signs and graphics played a significant part in giving a good impression of a business. More than half (55%) of the survey respondents said they would be less likely to choose a supplier whose signs and graphics looked scruffy and unprofessional; and a further 42% said it may have an impact on their decision.

“What’s clear from our research is that SMEs are very committed to buying local.  As the UK economy starts to show real signs of sustainable growth, quality service, reliability, professionalism and good value are ever more important. As suppliers, we all need to make sure we are adding value and addressing the needs of our customer,” Craig Brown concludes.

This year, Signs Express is celebrating 25 years as the UK’s largest and leading signs and graphics company.