Vendors are people too! But in all seriousness, building strong, supportive relationships with your vendors is critical in maintaining excellent quality for your product or service.
Trying to low-ball your vendors on price and force a tense power dynamic is not a sound strategy. This relationship is mutually beneficial and should be treated as such. If you dismiss a vendor, or a vendor drops you as a client, then you both lose. However, if your vendor-client relationship is solid and founded in respect for one another, then you, as the client, gain a loyal supplier, and the vendor wins your business.
Negotiate Pricing in a Respectful Manner
Of course vendor pricing is important. You have a budget to adhere to, and you want to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Once you find a vendor that fits your needs and requirements, you then have to consider the overall value of that vendor. And that value can reach far beyond dollars and cents. How is their customer service? Are they reliable? Is the process of placing orders easy? Is their staff knowledgeable and friendly? Strive for quality over quantity; the cheapest vendor will more than likely not add any value to your business.
You are Not Their Only Customer
It’s pretty common for customers to act like they are the vendor’s only client, and demand their full time and attention, but that is hardly realistic. Sometimes, the sales rep you have built rapport with is unavailable, and you have to deal with another employee. Remember that they are running a business too, and have other important clients like yourself.
Establish Expectations Early-on and Communicate When Things Change
Two-way communication the key to a successful customer/supplier relationship. If you take issue with your supplier’s new batch of product or a change they made in order processing, then be open and honest with them about it. They are unable to read your mind, and once you have a respectful discussion about the problem, then you take steps in the right direction to solve it. You should both be dedicated to continuous improvement.
However, it’s important to establish your expectations with the vendor from the get-go. That way, both parties are aware of what needs to be done. Make a note of your expectations in writing and provide a copy to the vendor, so there are minimal discrepancies down the road. Then, make it a priority to do semi-regular reviews with your vendor to address changes in expectations or to re-evaluate performance.
Lastly, pay on time, and meet them halfway.
During your contract negotiations, it is vital to address payment terms with your vendor. If your company has a standard ‘net 30’ payment schedule, let your vendor know, so they do not expect payment earlier. Also, consider sending your vendor a thank you card or gift to show your appreciation, or maybe leave a positive review on their site.
If you strive to maintain a positive and respectful relationship with your vendor, it can be one of the most lucrative relationships you will ever have in your business.