Most businesses rely on vendors to help their businesses run smoothly and become more successful. We believe vendors should be more like partners, working together to achieve success for both parties. Working with a vendor can enhance your brand and simplify your business programs.
Below are five suggestions to get the most out of your vendor relationships:
1 – Value their time and show genuine interest
Remember, your vendor is also a business creating value for their customers, YOU! Vendors are here to help make your job easier, save you money, and help you achieve your goals.
When scheduling a meeting with your vendor, make sure you both respect each other by being on time, productive, and collaborative. You both have busy lives and businesses to run. Respect their time and yours by making sure the correct people are in attendance and any changes to time/location are communicated ahead of time.
2 – Keep your vendor informed and ask for their opinions
Just as it’s important to keep your own team updated on changes, vendors need to be informed of important changes as well. Here are 3 examples of when you may need to notify your vendor:
- Change in contact information. When vendors are unaware of employee or contact (address, email, phone, etc) changes, this can cause disturbances in deliveries and invoices.
- Seasonal changes or adding/removing employees. The number of people in and out of your facility may impact your needs more than you realize. Therefore, notifying your vendor of these anticipated changes helps ensure you get the best service.
- Adding new locations or relocating. Communicating with your vendors on future plans and goals allows them to give you insight into effective products and services for your business – Forbes. Consequently, your vendor can help you strategize the best products or services to best fit your needs.
3 – Communicate and work through challenges
Have you had challenges with past vendors’ products or services? Make your vendor aware of previous issues and be honest. Vendors want to build strong, long-term relationships and make your business grow. They are knowledgeable in their industry and can often give you a competitive advantage.
Long-term relationships with a vendor build trust and personalized solutions and will often save you money in the long run. Consistent communication is key when working alongside your vendor.
Furthermore, vendors often have additional products/services and connections! If you’re having challenges in other areas of your business, consider reaching out to your vendor to see what other resources or support they can offer. It’s likely that they have a solution you’re not yet aware of.
4 – Understand expectations and the current marketplace
Everyone is dealing with supply chain issues, increase costs, product shortages, and lack of employment, including your vendor. When working with a vendor, consider:
- The U.S. Labor Department reported a 5.5 million difference in job openings as there are workers.
- A 2022 report, revealed the consumer Price Index was up 8.5% for all items due to increased concern about inflation.
5 – Treat those around you as you would like to be treated
Finally, effective business and vendor relationships start and end with a collaborative approach. Just like new employees, working with a new vendor requires some time onboarding with your company. Here are a few questions or preferences you may want to discuss:
- Do you prefer communication via email, office phone, or call?
- Are specific decision-makers required for additional products/services?
- Are drop-off or service areas properly distinguished?
- Do vendors need access to facility/employee areas?
- What frequency will you need products/services? Weekly, Bi-weekly, Monthly, etc.
At the end of the day, establish a partnership relationship with your vendors: work alongside them and imagine the possibilities. There are always workable solutions for almost any type of problem!