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What To Look for in a Salt Vendor

What To Look for in a Salt Vendor

Justin Rollin

What to look for in a Bulk Salt Vendor Checklist:
  • Price guarantee will make sure that nothing changes when you place your bulk rock salt order.
  • Rock salt vendors with salt on-location will have a much faster turnaround time.
  • Fast and accurate billing is paramount to your peace-of-mind.
  • Strong logistics means an organized and fast vendor.
  • Multiple locations means enhanced coordination and a stronger supply chain.
  • Good communication means someone will actually pick up the phone and take your order/answer your questions.
  • Supply guarantee will ensure you have rock salt throughout the whole season.
  • A credible and established bulk rock salt vendor didn’t get that way on accident.

As a small business owner, you might have already faced the consequences of a hasty decision or two. It happens to us all, whether we’re too busy to do the research or are feeling the urgency to act. However, it always pays (or in this case, saves money) to make the right choice the first time around.

Choosing a salt vendor is no different. With very little research you can find yourself the cheapest fly-by-night vendor in your region. They might even get you your rock-salt quickly. Yet, what happens in two months when you need more? Will they be as prompt as before? Did you even get the name of the owner? Worse yet, what if you call them up two days before a blizzard and the line’s disconnected?

Snow removal is a serious component of operating a business or property in snow-prone areas. A great salt vendor is one that knows your name and gets you out of a pinch, among other things. Here’s how to choose the best salt vendor in your area.

Changing Pricing

What to avoid: The road salt industry is no different than any other; if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If the only thing you look for in a salt vendor is pricing, then you’ll quickly find yourself left high and dry by a vendor that’s only concerned with the bottom line.

Worse yet, many vendors will advertise low pricing only for you to find that, mysteriously, the price changes when it actually matters. Most vendors aren’t foolish enough to pull a true “bait and switch” but they know how to tack on enough secondary fees to suddenly make that cheap salt not too cheap.

What to look for: Find a salt vendor that offers a reasonable price—it may not be the lowest but it shouldn’t be the highest. Most of all, ask for a price guarantee that the vendor will back up with a contract. A salt vendor that will lock in a price is one that has both the supply and the business to offer you reliability, which is just as important as the bottom dollar.

Salt on Location

Salt on Location

What to avoid: Many salt vendors aren’t actually vendors of salt. It may sound strange but, like all commodities, there are plenty of middlemen trying to hook you into a contract. A vendor that can’t show you salt on location is one that is getting it as-needed. Not only does that mean a slower turnaround tike but it begs the question of who they’re getting the salt from. Why not just go to that business instead?

What to look for: A credible salt vendor is proud of its supply. They’ll show you what they have on-hand without a second of hesitation. Having a large supply of salt on location means they have a strong demand. Most of all, salt on location simply means salt gets to you faster.

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Fast & Accurate Billing

What to avoid: If a vendor is too busy or disorganized to send you a bill for your salt immediately after you purchase it, then it says a lot about the logistical disarray happening on their backend. Even worse, old bills are hard to remember and no one wants to question an invoice only to have to go back through their own records to verify that the amount owed is correct.

What to look for: Fast billing means two things: the vendor you’re working with has an efficient accounting team (which can tell you a bit about their work ethic) and, since the invoice is still fresh in your mind you don’t need to waste any time questioning it. No one wants to conduct a forensic investigation on a salt bill.

Strong Logistics (turnaround)

Strong Logistics (turnaround)

What to avoid: Whether you’re a business owner, a property owner, or a snow removal business, there are plenty of logistical requirements for keeping that asset running smoothly. The same is true for salt distribution. A well-oiled operation is one that knows where their salt is and where it needs to go. A poorly run salt business is one that will make you wait, sometimes until it’s too late. 

What to look for: To put it simply, a salt vendor with sound logistics is one that won’t make you wait for anything. They’ll have a supply of salt on hand, they’ll know who needs it, and they’ll have the distribution prowess to get it where it needs to go. These kinds of salt vendors take pride in how smooth their business is run, as they should.

Multiple Locations

What to avoid: Going back to that specific type of solitary, budget salt vendor that may or may not even have the salt they have on hand at a moment’s notice; these kinds of vendors are usually run at a slim margin, meaning they probably only have one location manned by a skeleton crew. What does this mean for you? It means that all your eggs are in one basket, a basket you don’t even have easy access to. 

What to look for: A great salt vendor, logistically speaking, is one that can coordinate across its multiple locations. Is one area getting hit by a huge blizzard? No problem; they’ll send salt from a location that’s not so bad over to the ones that have a higher demand. This kind of coordination is pivotal to you, the buyer, and is also a landmark of a credible salt vendor that you can develop a solid relationship with.

Good Communication

Good Communication

What to avoid: Ever ring up one of your distributors only to have the phone ring and ring and ring? Or send an email, get no response whatsoever, and waste time wondering when it’s appropriate to send another one? A poorly run salt operation is one that isn’t going to be very concerned with keeping in touch with you and that’s as frustrating as it is detrimental to your business.

What to look for: Any vendor you have a rapport with is one that you can trust. You should know the name of the person behind your salt distribution and they should know yours. Not only does this kind of relationship provide you with peace of mind, but it makes it so much easier to coordinate your requirements. Plus, we all know that snow and ice can happen at any second and sometimes without any warning. A solid vendor is one that picks up the phone and gets you what you need.

Supply Guarantee that Means Something

What to avoid: The worst thing you can do is order a quantity of salt only to be told that that quantity isn’t available. What do you do then, especially if you’re in a rock and a hard place? Do you just settle for what little salt they have or do you go back to the drawing board and find an entirely new vendor with no time to spare?

What to look for: Guarantees should be treated seriously. Not to mention, a vendor worth their salt (pun intended) is one that’ll guarantee you a supply of salt at any time of the year. Are you a serious planner? Then there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to get your salt order in by July for the coming winter.

Credibility & Longevity

What to avoid: Not everyone has the ability to say they’ve been in business for 12+ years. And while it’s always good to give someone a chance, it also means you’re working on faith. In some cases, it’s simply not worth the trouble. A salt vendor without the credibility and longevity that comes with a successful business is one that you simply can’t completely trust.

What to look for: If you haven’t noticed yet, we’ve checked every box on the “what to look for list”. It’s not on accident that we’ve been in the salt distribution business for more than 10 years. We can also state with pride that we have a 93% customer satisfaction rate; none of this is on accident! We’ve been serving the Midwest and surrounding states for a while now and we’ll be serving it for years to come. At Ninja De-Icer, we have both the clout and the logistics to be the only salt vendor you need. It’s that simple.