There is no doubt that ISO accreditations are helping companies win new business and retain existing customers, providing a stamp of trust for buyers. Larger organisations that generally go out to tender will initially perform a due diligence exercise to narrow down companies with certain criteria to reduce their risk.

Many of these companies will be looking for a supply chain that has achieved ISO 9001 –a certification for their quality management system – or QMS. The certification is designed to be applicable to any company across all sectors, whether the company is production-orientated or service-based. Certification is gained through an independent audit of a company’s systems and processes, with on-going monitoring and improvements. The certification requires renewal each year.

More recently, and perhaps due to the increased awareness of the eco issues the planet faces, many companies have also gained ISO 14001 certification, which audits the company’s environmental management system. In addition to helping you become a better business through improved management of your environmental impact, this integrated system will help you to manage compliance requirements, reduce waste and improve your brand’s image.

The BPMA also felt there was a requirement for an industry specific standard and so created its BPMA Charter membership to develop and achieve significantly higher standards in the promotional product industry. It promotes an elevated level of business practice and customer service, and is an official endorsement of those companies that display its logo.

As Charter confers openness, trust, compliance and proven client-driven processes, along with a complete absence of ambiguity, this undoubtedly gives its members a significant ‘edge’ in the competitive stakes. Certainly, distributor members who use it to influence and win new business rarely talk of price being an issue, as the overall value offering is more of a deciding factor. Consequently, Charter membership is growing as companies whose primary strategy is to develop and achieve success over the medium-to-long term look to distinguish themselves from everyone else.

Jon Birrell, CEO at the BPMA

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