Having a great relationship with a vendor can make big projects a breeze, while bad relationships can make the simplest of tasks feel like pulling teeth. Smart vendor management can lead to better prices, faster response times, and more reliable deliveries. This, in turn, leads to lower stress on your company, happier customers, and a smoother operation overall. So what can you do to improve these relationships?
The value of communication can never be overstated. Make sure your lines of communication are open and easily accessible for your vendors. Educate them not only on the project, but who you are as a company and why this project is important. The more you communicate, the better your vendor can understand your brand. If it’s possible, meet in person to talk about your project. There’s nothing like meeting in person to establish strong connections. Better communication can lead to easier negotiations and greater respect between yourself and the vendor.
You hired your vendor because you need their special skills to complete your goal. While you may know what you want, you may not know the ins and outs of their industry like they do. Your vendors have a wealth of expertise you can tap into, so come prepared with questions while also taking their advice into account. Asking questions helps reduce frustration and makes you a better, more informed customer. The knowledge you gain will also help with future project planning.
Despite its frequent use, strong-arming your vendors rarely ends well. Just like your company, your vendor has a business that needs to make money. Constant pressure from your end to lower prices may result in lower quality output and possibly getting fired by your vendor. More often than not, your company may be shelling out more cash in order to fix the imperfect results of a cheap service. Price negotiation is okay, but it shouldn’t become aggressive or involve mind games about taking your business elsewhere. You’re much more likely to make a deal with your vendor if they feel valued and treated kindly.
An often overlooked benefit of good vendor relations is their ability to help your company’s marketing efforts. Your vendors are experts at what they do. They usually have pictures and other materials having to do with the service they’re providing for your business. Connect your vendors with your marketing team to make sure your business is tagged in their social media posts. Vendors are usually happy to pass along pictures for marketing content. At Dion, we often send pictures, create flyers, and even send sample products for our distributor partners to use when talking to clients. Tapping into this vendor resource is an easy way to boost your marketing, however, make sure to return the favor. This can be done by tagging vendors in your own social media posts and writing positive reviews for them.
It may seem obvious, but nothing damages a vendor relationship more than making them chase you down for payment. You cannot expect excellent service when you are not being a good customer. Delays on your end can cause workflow problems on theirs, as they may need to rethink your project schedule. Being on time with payment and other items is an indication of respect and is simply good business practice.
A great relationship with a quality vendor can make a world of difference to your company. By taking the time to foster those relationships, both parties can enjoy the partnership, and produce quality work together.
By Aubrey Dion
Aubrey Dion is proud to be back working for the family business she grew up in. Over the years, she has performed a wide variety of jobs in both the office and factory, becoming a true "jack of all trades." Aubrey credits her quick learning ability to her strong theatre background, where memorization and attention to detail are vital. Working in the marketing department allows her to stay creative and work on exciting new projects for the company.