As a consumer in the marketplace, a local church faces the inevitability of making purchasing choices. Ford or Chevy? Plain or peanut? A lot or a little?
Wise choices are made from informed methods of comparison shopping. Executive pastors and church administrators identified these key principles to help your church make the right decision every time.
Conduct online research. The internet makes comparison shopping far easier today than in previous years. Search engines are helpful, along with organizational websites, such as the National Association of Church Business Administration's Ultimate Guide to Church Supplies (http://ultimatechurchsuppliersguide.com/index.php).
Network. Call and email people in other churches who have responsibility for making buying decisions, especially if these churches are similar in size. Ask which products and services they use and probe for their levels of satisfaction.
Ask for samples. Try before you buy. Ask the vendor to deliver a sample for the opportunity to test the item in your church. For some items, such as chairs, ask for one chair each from three or more companies and then compare them.
Identify the "hidden" costs. The list price to purchase or lease a piece of equipment is not the only cost to consider. Go deeper and identify the total operating cost. Calculate the costs of service contracts, warranties, and insurance into your bottom-line figure.
Don't be dazzled by the brand. Find an off-brand that can perform the same functions at the same level of quality as the big-name brand.
Know your needs before buying. Clearly identify how your church will actually use the item or service. With this knowledge, you can eliminate the unnecessary features of a product and target your shopping.
Keep comparing. The decision to go with one vendor or shop at one store should not be for eternity. Periodically review your buying procedures and be alert for changing prices and markets.
Slow down. Nothing will justify buyer's remorse more than discovering a better deal on an item after you have purchased the same item from someone else. Take time to ask questions, make comparisons and conduct the research. Never purchase on impulse.
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