Real Small Business
A good relationship with a supplier can be profitable for you and them. Strong links with your vendors provides strategic benefits ranging from better prices to access to important business information and resources. This kind of partnership doesn't come easily. It needs to be nurtured over time. First off, you must choose suppliers that best match your company's needs and culture. Next, you have to hold up your end of the deal by being a loyal and trustworthy customer. The tips below can help you through this process.
Go beyond price
No company wants to overspend, but building a successful supplier relationship requires thinking about more than just price. The value of a vendor includes how well it is able to serve your company's needs, as well as the needs of your customers. When assessing potential vendors, consider a full range of factors, including:
Fully investigate finances
It is common for suppliers to investigate the financial health of their customers, but it pays for your business to investigate a supplier's financial condition too. By getting a credit report on a supplier, you will have a clearer picture of its potential as a long-term strategic partner. For example, a supplier with credit problems may have trouble meeting its obligations, which can have an impact on its ability to ship orders in timely manner.
Gain a first hand account of life with a potential supplier by contacting a supplier's current customers. Start with standard concerns such as price, delivery, and other issues that relate to your business. Also be sure to ask out how the vendor handles problems, since even the best relationships have their occasional glitches.
Maintain good faith
Your ability to strike a long-term partnership with your suppliers depends a great deal on how you manage your end of the relationship. Strive for a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Start by paying your bills on time, which can go a long way to fostering good will and can help you out when you need your supplier to go the extra mile for you. Avoid quibbling over every bill, or trying to get a better price on everything they sell -- remember, your suppliers also need to make money. Also try to keep your expectations in line. As a new customer, don't expect to immediately get the same kind of attention that a long-standing customer receives -- that's a privilege you may have to earn over time.
Be clear with your needs
Keep the lines of communication open between you and your suppliers. Clearly indicate any special needs you may have. For example, if you need a certain order to be rushed, ask the supplier what delivery options are available to you based on your specific deadline. Don't expect to get something for nothing -- again, you should anticipate having to pay for both the products and value-added services you receive.
Your company can benefit over time through the open exchange of information with your key suppliers. Be sure to treat all strategic information confidentially, and expect the same of your suppliers. If asked, be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and abide by its terms. This is often not so much a matter of trust, but a legal way to ensure that proprietary data stays that way.
Copyright © 2011 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.
Small Business Guide
- Starting Up Your Business
- Structuring The Business
- Creating a Business Plan
- Your Company's Public Relations
- Effective Competitive Analysis
- Managing Purchasing to Maximize Cash Flow
- Bidding Basics
- Hiring Staff
- Small Business Insurance
- Small Business Resources
- Vacations and Taking Time Off
- Preparing for Tax Season
- Cash Flow
- Your Company's Credit
- Getting Funding
- Employee Compensation