We all know that the relationships with have with our clients, donors and members are important to the success of our business. What we may not have considered is the relationship we have with our vendors and how that affects our success.
In the promotional products industry our vendors can be treated very poorly by distributors. I’ve seen this treatment first hand when I worked for another organization. When I started my own business I made a commitment that I would never treat my vendors poorly. In fact, I would treat vendors like clients! Imagine the difference in the approach to a relationship with this attitude. It means asking my suppliers to lunch and actually treating them rather than expecting them to foot the bill. Treating my vendors like clients means that the lunch is about getting to know them on a personal level. This is also a great opportunity to network to perhaps connect them to someone else who may impact their business or personal life. Did they mention they were going on a trip? Perhaps there’s a super travel agent I can refer them to. The relationship is two-sided and genuine.
A great relationship with a supplier means being honest about how urgent your deadlines are. If something is a rush, I state rush and they know I’m truthful about it. Rather than placing every order as an urgent request my vendors know that I’m flexible. They can call on us if they need some cooperation to shuffle my order to accommodate someone else that needs a product produced urgently. Having open communication and a respectful relationships means they know I’m approachable and flexible and it means that if I’m ever in a rushed position they will pull through for me.
When something does go wrong, great vendor partnerships approach dealing with the situation with respect and patience. It means collecting the facts, picking up the phone and working on a solution that’s a win-win. It doesn’t mean trying to screw your supplier over for making you look bad, or a heated email that could sever the relationships completely. It means working together to “wow” your client in the end building loyalty to your supplier as well as keeping a client for life.
In the end, having a mutually beneficial relationship with your vendor or supplier will increase your productivity. The more you can rely on a few sources rather than hundreds of sources to do a great job, the more quickly you get things done and can move on to other tasks at hand. When vendor relationships are based on trust, honesty and respect it’s amazing how smoothly a transaction can run.
Write a personal note to one of your vendors today! It’s a new year, let them know you’re excited about growing your business with them and thank them for their support in the past. I guarantee a positive return!