Starting Up

Developing a positive relationship with your vendors

You are done with the first step of identifying your vendor or vendors. The next step is the critical one as it is important to communicate your goals, business vision and your expectations. This will be part of your relationship management skills that you may have to develop. When a vendor understands how important customer service is to you, they will be encouraged to work harder in that area. Knowing your goals will help them make the best decisions that will work in your favor. It is also an important way to develop your vendor relationship management skills.

Assign a dedicated manager

Select a team leader or project manager to keep track of each vendor. This manager should check in with frequent phone calls and site visits to solicit feedback from the vendor.

Remember: Phone calls are more personal than e-mails, while site visits will go even further to bolster your confidence in the vendor and let them know that they are an important part of the team. This person should respond to any vendor questions and concerns promptly and make sure to keep the lines of communication flowing.

Put everything in writing

When establishing a vendor relationship, make sure to put everything – responsibilities, best practices, expected sales volume, payment receipts in writing. Follow up all verbal communications and requests with e-mails. This will help you avoid any misunderstandings or miss communications.

Request progress reports

Schedule periodic and detailed progress reports from the vendor. These reports will give you a clear insight into how the business is growing. They will bring forth the glitches or problems early on and allow you to resolve issues before they turn into big problems.

Plan in advance

It’s important to respect your vendors’ time and resources. Delays on your end or last minute alterations can affect their profit margins and strain the relationship. Similarly, pay on time and if you can’t, explain to the vendor why. Reschedule the payment, and don’t default.

Explain your needs to the vendors

Don’t assume that vendors know your company’s unique needs. Figure out if training is necessary. The additional expense will be worth it.

Avoid the blame game

It’s inevitable that mistakes are bound to happen and that may even result in lost business or clients. But don’t over-react or jump to conclusions. State the problem without assigning blame and trust for it to be corrected.

Be reasonable

Low balling your quotes and expecting something for nothing is a bad way to maintain a good vendor relationship.

Show loyalty

When you are loyal to your vendor by consistently giving them business and sticking with them despite occasional mistakes, misunderstandings or miscommunication, they may return the favor by offering discounts and incentives. If you are considering alternative vendors, under no circumstances should you let your current vendor know that. It may seem like a good way to negotiate for lower prices, but you risk your vendor feeling slighted.

Show goodwill

Don’t get into the habit of asking for outrageous requests or favours from your vendors. In case you do so occasionally, show some good will by offering easier jobs, giving them more business, giving them referrals and understanding that they may not always be able to accommodate immediate or unexpected requests.

Be friendly

Don’t be afraid to be friendly with your vendors. Try not to make every communication with them a serious one. The more you get to know their team and the more they think of you as a friend, the more good will they’ll be willing to show you when you need it.

Entrepreneurial Learning

Every business needs to maintain good vendor relationship. It is important that you satisfy your customers, be friendly and polite to them. Devise a plan to deal for vendor management. Appoint a manager to talk to your vendors in order to track their performance and check for improvement. Explain your needs to your vendors, be loyal and friendly to them, they are important to you. Be reasonable, do not try to save money. So start implementing these rules to develop a positive vendor relationship management.

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