Be good to your vendors and they’ll be good to you
“Unity is strength... when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek
A relationship is a two-way street
Fostering a positive alliance with suppliers makes great business sense, now more than ever before. The global COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically underscored the importance of supply-chain resilience - according to a recent industry survey from Gartner, 87% of respondents said they now plan to make investments to beef up resiliency and agility within the next two years. Without vendors who are committed to delivering the best possible service and products even in the midst of a catastrophe, you simply won’t be able to do the same for your customers.
Just as you wish to develop a loyal customer base or grow alongside your clients, your expectation should be the same from your network of suppliers. You need them to want to establish a mutually beneficial, long-term association with your enterprise. Having this intention will result in a better, more personal service, which can only benefit your brand. But you can’t expect your suppliers to do all the work in developing this relationship - there has to be give and take.
Good manners manifest goodwill
Use the same respectful tone with vendors as you do with colleagues and clients. After all, they are just as vital to the success of your business. Think of them as equally a part of your team. As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. With a little effort you can ensure that the link represented by your suppliers is forged from the tempered steel of goodwill. It should be a central tenet of your company’s culture to have a minimum standard of genuine courtesy, regardless of the fact that you’re paying for the product or service provided.
You can set yourself apart from less well-mannered competitors and potentially gain in the form of real added value: preferential service, enhanced support, volume discounts, timely deliveries, urgent favors… If you’ve developed a great rapport, you stand a much better chance of enjoying all these benefits and more for little to no actual cost.
Be a good listener
Apart from basic human decency in how you communicate with your vendors, there are a number of ways that you can ensure you’re always in their good books: Pay your bills on time or early; be realistic about lead times to avoid creating undue pressure and potential mistakes; cultivate open dialogue, demonstrating that you have a genuine interest in what they have to say. On this score, consider deploying a Voice of the Supplier (VoS) survey to get a clear view of how your company is perceived and what improvements can be made. It’s important to then act on feedback so your vendors know they’ve been heard and that you take them seriously. Healthy lines of communication can lead to increased opportunities for product development, improved quality and lower costs.
Appreciation is appreciated
When it comes to generating and maintaining goodwill, gratitude is a massively underrated factor. Apart from being the right thing to do, expressing simple thanks in an e-mail, text or call can reap real rewards. It should be done as a matter of course, but when a vendor has gone the extra mile they deserve a little extra recognition.
Take the time to write a public testimonial or copy them in on an email where you’ve recommended their product or service to your network. Their success becomes yours, just as yours becomes the success of your clients. The ultimate show of appreciation is sending a thank-you gift, a tangible gesture that will be remembered above all else.
“Giving credit where credit is due is a very rewarding habit to form. Its rewards are inestimable.” – Loretta Young