The purchase order is a vital part of our business, so I thought it would be a good idea to cover the issue in a blog. It can be included with the parts as the packing slip, or otherwise sent to us, but it is important that we have it. It gives us permission to process your parts at the agreed-upon price. Our customer service department uses it to generate the sales order, part of which travels around with the parts and part of which stays with our production manager. It tells our shipping department where to send the parts, and is used to generate the sales invoice or to charge the work to your credit card. In other words, nothing happens without a purchase order.
So, what should be on a purchase order?
1. First of all, your company name, billing address, and shipping address (if different from your shipping address). Always a good idea.
2. Second, a valid purchase order number. We use the number to track your orders. Simplest way to generate a purchase order number is to use the date. For example, if you are preparing the purchase order on April 15, 2016, a simple order number would be 041516-01, the 01 indicating it is the first purchase order you are writing that day.
3. Our name should be somewhere on the purchase order. This way we know that the parts have not been sent to us by mistake. This has happened on more than one occasion.
4. Tell us how you want the parts shipped back to you. We normally will ship FEDEX ground, but we can also ship UPS or even common carrier (for heavy loads). If you want us to ship on your account, provide the account number for us to charge it to.
5. A date for when you would hope that we can possibly get the parts back to you. If you are taking part in our Small Order Program, it helps to mark the order as such to make sure the shipping date is secured.
6. Let us know what you want done to the parts. We can make this very easy for you – most of our finishes are numbered. If, for instance, you send us a part in raw brass or steel and want it to have a polished PVD brass finish, you simply call for it to have PVD polished brass 40. The part will then be polished, vapor degreased, plated with bright nickel and trivalent chrome, and finally put in our vacuum chamber for deposition of a PVD brass-colored finish.
7. We have to know what you are sending us, and what to charge you. This information is best displayed in a table. The table should list each of the parts as a separate item. Here’s what we need in the table.
a. An item number.
b. The quantity.
c. A part number (if available). If not available, we’ll create numbers. Part numbers allow us to track the parts in our computer system.
d. A very brief description of the part. If you have not listed what needs to be done to the parts elsewhere, you can include this in the part description.
e. The price per part. (We should have provided you with a formal price quotation for the work before you send the parts for processing. If we haven’t, or if you want us to process parts that are not on the price quotation, let us know and we will take care of it.)
f. It would be nice to have the total price for each item (i.e., quantity times price per part).
8. It would be nice to have the total price listed at the bottom of the table, but we can add so this is not that important.
9. Some orders fall beneath our minimum lot charge. How do you know what the minimum lot charge is for the work you want done? Easy – we tell you, on the price quotation for the work. If you do not have a price quotation, let us know.
10. A signature would be nice, telling us that you give us your permission to process your parts at the agreed upon price. Not a deal breaker, though – we assume that if you provide us with a purchase order, we are good to go.
Now for some tips:
• Try to send us one purchase order per finish to be applied. It makes it much easier to track your parts.
• Don’t use the same part number for two different items, or the same description for two different part numbers.
• Don’t assume we know which part is which. Our staff is very familiar with faucet parts, but not so much with parts from other industries. Pictures will help.
• Make sure there are no contradictions in the PO. For example, if the parts are all supposed to come to us polished, make sure the description in the listing does not say “mill finish” or “brushed”.
• The most important thing to remember is that the purchase order rules. If we have any questions about the purchase order, any discrepancies, everything stops until we have clarified the issues with you. What this means is that your parts go back to the end of the line!
You can find suitable templates in Microsoft Word for purchase orders. If you have any problem with any of this, please feel free to contact me. I can set you up with the first purchase order and make it easy for you to covert it as needed for future work.
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