Creating excellent vendor relationships is vital to creating a sustainable business. But, you may be thinking: why should I be busy devoting time to building relationships with my vendors when I’m really focusing on my customers? First, building trust with your vendors can, in turn, hugely help your business relationship with your customers. In business, things happen. Production deadlines get shifted around, factories run short on materials, the end of the year comes and everyone is working overtime to make up for the vacation time of other staff.
The fact is when time is running out, whether it’s on your end or your factory’s end, having a strong relationship with a vendor will make them more willing to work with you and get everything finished by your deadline. It will also put you in a better position to request bulk discounts. These four tips will help put you on the right track to building strong and sustainable relationships with your vendors. And it won’t even take much effort on your part.
Pay On Time
You’re in business too, so it should come as no surprise to you that paying for services on time is essential to keeping things running smoothly. Your vendors and manufacturers are no different. They need you to pay on time in order to finish their side of the deal as scheduled. Of course, things happen and you might be a day or two late at some point (which, by the way, is something you could recover from if you have a strong relationship with your vendor before then), but you should always make your absolute best effort to pay your vendors on time.
If you continue meeting your deadlines, they will do their best to meet all of theirs. That’s the give and take of business.
Talk To Someone Who “Gets” It
When it comes to shopping around for vendors, pricing should not be the only thing in mind. It can be extremely helpful if you have a vendor who truly understands the goals and visions of your company. Paying a few pennies more will be worth it to have your vendors on the same page as you and your employees. You will spend a lot less time explaining things and a lot more time getting things done. And, in addition to having a vendor who understands your needs, you also need to have one who is able to promptly communicate with you. If you’re having to chase them down to find time to do a meeting or having issues reaching out to them when you need a question answered, they are not going to cut it.
Your vendor should be willing to listen to you and your goals without rushing you. Obviously, be mindful of their time and know that it’s your business to run and not theirs. But you should be able to explain things to them and they should be able to respond in a way that proves they truly understand what you mean and what you’re striving for.
It Goes Both Ways
You cannot just have a one-way line of communication with your vendor where you are always the one asking questions and making demands. You also need to be talking to your vendor and figuring out what they need from you. What are the payment terms? What’s the best way for you to pay? What channels do they prefer working with? What’s a realistic time frame for deliveries? Knowing all of this information allows you to build a smooth working relationship with them. Not only will you be more efficient when it comes to placing orders, your whole business will be more efficient thanks to a working process without hiccups or misunderstandings.
There are many questions you’ll be asking your vendor, not only to make sure they understand how you work but also so you understand how they work. Knowing how much time they need to complete delivery for certain items and asking when the best time to place an order allows you to factor their schedule into your schedule. That means you’re lowering the chances of late deliveries and avoiding rushing your vendors all the time. If you respect their processes and give them the time they need to deliver, they certainly will.
Don’t Point Fingers
It can be easy to want to shift all the blame to your vendors when something goes wrong. Maybe you think an aspect was clearly communicated and there’s no possible way they can get it wrong, until they do. When something happens, don’t point fingers. While it is true that you are paying the vendors to deliver a service, you are not in charge of the facilities or any of their employees. Vendors want to keep customers like you happy, but mistakes do happen.
When something goes wrong, you should contact your vendor and give them the chance to explain. State the problem without alluding to a particular person or taking a stab at them, and simply hear them out. When things go wrong, fix them! That’s how businesses work.
Of course, if your vendors are constantly making mistakes, you need to be looking for new ones who don’t.
Once you find the right vendors for the job, there’s a lot more to building a solid business relationship with them. But, it can be done. Really, doing so doesn’t take much effort at all, it will simply happen overtime as long as you are consistent in paying on time, holding up your side of the deal, and thoroughly explaining everything. When a problem inevitably arises, handle it professionally and with patience—it will all be sorted out!
Until next time,
To Your Growth & Profits
William De Temple, CEO Antirion LLC
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