Tips for Developing Better Supplier Relationships
You can’t run a company without suppliers who provide the tools and materials you need to sell the goods and services you provide to your clients. It’s critical to create a good working relationship with your suppliers so that you can get the best deals and terms and so you know you can rely on them when you need them. This isn’t always an easy thing to do, however. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for improving your connection with your suppliers.
Keep Things Formal
To begin with, there should always be some level of formality in every commercial partnership. You may have a deeper connection with certain customers that is more easy-going and less formal in nature, and that can work well. When it comes to your suppliers, however, they are merely delivering a service to you, no matter how nice they may be, and therefore you almost want to be overly formal in your engagement with them. This means they’ll constantly want to keep you happy with the service they’re offering.
When it comes to having a more easy-going connection with suppliers, it might lead to you being less of a priority, which may be detrimental to your company. This could lead to additional mistakes, and it might be tough to assign responsibility when your relationship is at a state of friendship, or close to it, where you don’t want to damage it by making waves. Remember to make it official whenever possible so that you don’t cross any lines. Maintenance bonds can be an ideal way to do this.
You Need Consistent Communication
Communication is essential in every relationship, and it must be two-way. You can’t expect the supplier to constantly be in continuous contact, but they should respond within 24 hours of receiving an email from you. Taking longer than a working day to react is not always acceptable, and you should set such ground rules when communicating with your suppliers.
You should also make sure you have an account manager. If you have someone you can go to whenever you need them, and you don’t have to go through the main switchboard all the time, things will be quicker; instead of having to wait so long, you can receive an immediate answer. You should keep in contact on a daily or weekly basis, depending on how often you use them.
If you ever feel that communication is missing in any way, it’s a good idea to have numerous lines of contact available, ranging from email to phone numbers. That way, if an urgent situation or emergency arises, you will be able to contact them regardless of what has happened.
Have an Annual Review
Annual reviews are something you would do for your employees, so it stands to reason that you should provide them for your suppliers as well. Your customers are likely to come to you for feedback, therefore you must do the same for those you pay to offer a service. A review can help you understand what works well and what doesn’t. It might be difficult to express these complaints or worries over the phone or email, so meeting in person is always good. Suppliers may want to take you out to dinner, but if you want a more professional talk, do it in a conference room.