There’s long-term value in having strong relationships.
We all have that one friend. The one who never calls unless she wants something. A loan. To borrow your truck. A reference. And because we never hear from these “friends” at other times, even if it’s just to share a beer and watch a game, we are less likely to help them out when they ask. Or at the very least we feel used.
In a business setting, this would be called a transactional relationship. A customer needs something, and they make their decision based on a simple criteria like the lowest price. If a new supplier has a lower price, the customer has no problem switching over. They just leave.
When it comes to something like choosing where to buy your favorite boots or what soda you like best, price is a good standard to go by. But when it comes to choosing vendors, you need to be more strategic in who you decide to work with.
To put it plainly, vendors are as important to your success as your customers are. If you treat them with respect, they will take care of you.
Consider this example. A car mechanic works with one vendor to get parts. He routinely is late to pay, always pushes for a lower price, makes last-minute requests, and can be explosive in his communication. Now imagine there is a shortage of a specific part this business owner needs. It’s a tough spot to be. In today’s market, allocations are real and may come to tough decisions that no one likes to make. The relationship may be a deciding factor. It’s always best to be on the good side of that equation when times are tough.
Victory360 has a perfect example. Currently, supply chain issues are making it challenging for printers to get their hands on things like paper and magnets, and when they do it’s expensive and much delayed. We have a customer who does a monthly magnet, and because of our strong ties with our vendor (the printer), they hooked us up with securing several months of magnets for this client. Because we have treated them with respect over the years, they took care of us when we needed a favor.
What does this mean for you? It’s simple: Build solid, long-term relationships with your vendors, just like you do with your customers.
It’s not that difficult to be a good partner.
1. Communicate well and clearly. Be clear about what you need and what your expectations are. And make sure you understand what they need as well.
2. Be reasonable with your requests. This means don’t expect to get something in 1 day when it’s barely possible to get it in 3 days.
3. Pay on time. Don’t make them chase you.
4. Be efficient. Make things smooth for everyone. If they need information from you, then take care of it.
5. Be flexible …when you can. It may not always be possible, but they will remember those times when you can and you are.
6. Be focused on fixing problems, not on figuring out who’s to blame.
In the end, it’s pretty simple: If you’re transactional, then people will be transactional with you. But if you take the time to build a strong partnership with your vendors, then when you really need them—and they are able to help—they will have your back.
Here are a few related articles.
How to Find and Work with Suppliers
Supplier Relationship Management: 10 Ways to Build Strong Bonds with Vendors
Choosing a Vendor: Six Steps to Find the Best Supplier
Let us know what you think!