If you have a networking project on hand, you are going to want a lot of cables. Patch cables, fiber optics, Ethernet, and more. Setting up a network, whether a localized one for an office building or a larger one that links a building to the internet, is going to need so many cables and wires that it can seem staggering at the onset. For that bulk of the product, you probably need to find a supplier.
However, how does one find a reliable, trustworthy supplier of network cables? You might have one in mind, like OTS Cable, or you might have no idea where to get them. Fortunately, there are a few reminders that will guide you in finding a good supplier.
1. Pick Someone Local
As with any other process of seeking a supplier, you need to find someone who is in your area. You want a local partner because it makes things easier if you need to talk to them. It also eases the logistics of delivery, because their facilities are closer to yours and transit times are much shorter.
Close proximity to your source also gives you greater control. Any company may say that they treat all their customers the same, but that’s not always right. If a supplier can expect a sudden drop-in visit from you at any time, they will treat you differently. There’s also the ability to leverage face-to-face visits to your advantage in getting the best deals and arrangements without anything getting lost in “translation” with a team that’s farther away.
2. Find a Price Range
Beyond locale, you should also check the price. Know the price of the cables that you are going to need, along with how many of them. Fiber optic cables, for instance, are more expensive than other products in the same field. You need to have an idea of how much these items cost and whether or not the potential supplier is overcharging you.
Check the prices per foot from various potential sources. Look at a number of companies and see which of these options provides a price range that fits your budget without sacrificing your quality. This would narrow things down for you further, which can help make the final decision easier.
3. Look at the Quality
Beyond just price, you should check on the quality of the product. In general, if the product is cheap, you’re going to find that the quality takes a dive. In other words, you need to consider the ones that are around the “middle” in terms of price, if not higher. However, beyond that, you need to do some research and find out what people say about the quality of the cables the company makes.
For this part, you have a few avenues. Word of mouth is a good source, though it’s somewhat limited due to personal bias. Online review sites are also a good idea. While reviews individually still have that bias, if you get enough of them, you can start finding a pattern. If the comments and reviews are consistently positive, then the probability is high that their products are of good quality and should be considered.
4. Buy a Sample
Don’t be afraid to buy some products as a sample. Buy the minimum amount of product you can and give it a test, to see if it works as intended. This lets you do your own inspection and testing, giving you better information to form your plan from. By making a purchase, you also get an opportunity to get an idea of how the sales process works and gives you a chance to look over their after-sales procedures.
5. Look at the After-Sales Support
Technical support and customer service are important in any supplier. You never know if you might encounter a situation that causes unforeseen problems. If these occur, you need to call the supplier for support and solutions to the problem.
Make sure that you not only have multiple ways to contact the company but also that these are valid. If possible, get a dedicated support line you can call. Make inquiries before you buy anything, so you have an idea of how they behave and what you can expect. If the after-sales support is poor or isn’t even there, you need to look towards another company.
6. Read the Warranty
Look at your warranty. What are the terms? What does it allow and how long do you have before you need to return a purchase? You need to examine these terms and conditions because you never know when you might find yourself needing to return these cables for one valid reason or another. In a way, this is also related to checking the quality of the products that a company makes.
One general thing to remember is that longer warranty periods can be an indicator of quality. In general, a business doesn’t want to return money or spend more money than they need to after a sale is completed. This means that if they’re confident about the quality and long-term viability of their product, they issue a longer warranty period. If they don’t have that confidence, the period is shorter.
Finding a good supplier for anything is a process. You sort through what’s out there, filter them based on things like price and quality, and then make your choice. The selection process is equal parts analysis of data and gut feeling, so once you are comfortable with that, you can find a supplier you can trust.