How to Find and Build a Good Relationship with Suppliers
Suppliers are the heart and driving force of any business setting and it’s important to build good relationships with them. Raw materials are a valuable resource for the growth and profitability of your business. Without them, you are bound to fail. Supplies may include anything from your simple roll of toilet paper to stationeries.
Suppliers, also known simply as vendors, not only play an important role in supplying you with good and services. But they also are an important information source, assist in the evaluation of prospective new products and services, and give you an insight into your competitor’s behavior.
Most business owners hate the idea of forming a partnership with their supplier/s. they are drawn by the saying ‘never mix friendship with business.’ To some point its true but it has its own benefits. A partnership is in no case a friendship but can lead to one.
What a supplier brings to the table in terms of a partner is they can assist in cost reduction, product design enhancement, and even financing existing and new marketing projects. If the selection of a good supplier isn’t on your list as part of your business growth plan, you’ll probably regret it.
‘If you maintain good and healthy relationships with suppliers, both of you are bound to succeed’
Knowing who your Supplier is
In general, suppliers’ classification is in four groups.
- Manufacturers – this includes salespeople or independent contractors handling goods from several companies. Their prices are low but could prove costly should they further be located.
- Distributors – referred to as wholesalers, brokers or jobbers. Their main mode of operation is buying from manufacturers, storing, and then selling to retailers.
- Independent artisan/craftsperson –this group offers exclusive designs but only ply their trade through representatives and at trade exhibitions.
- Importers – they buy from foreign manufacturers and sell to domestic retailers.
The Anatomy of a Good Supplier
Most companies draw their focus on a key supplier with the determining factor being the price. Although price is a key trait in any business, other key traits exist. They include:
Dependability is another key trait worth mentioning. A good supplier inspects and ships the correct number of items promptly monitoring them to their point of delivery. Large suppliers are a preferred choice because they have the resources and backup measures ensuring customer satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that small suppliers aren’t good and you should neglect them. You should consider dividing your orders between two suppliers as it provides backup and security of delivery.
Stability is also a key trait. You MUST only find suppliers with proven and long working record in your business area scope. A supplier with long servicing management with proof of providing top-notch services deserves consideration then selection. From the experience of progressiveactuator.com representatives (one of the linear actuators suppliers), look for giveaway signs of a troubled supplier. An example is a supplier delivering goods ahead of schedule, which means they are short on orders. Few orders translate to a supplier’s inability to generate cash.
Location –suppliers located in different geographical regions need longer shipping times and cost wise put a dent in your pocket. You’ll need to find out the waiting period of a shipment, as it can prove problematic for fast orders. Determine also the supplier’s shipping policies to save on each shipment. A good recommendation is finding a supplier who is closer to your home as it saves on not only costs but also order flexibility.
All the above traits form one term ‘competency.’ Your Endeavour is to work with suppliers who offer the latest and most sophisticated products and services. Their employees are well equipped and trained to understand what the company is selling. A good supplier provides appealing terms on a purchase. Finally, they should be realists and not pessimists with you in order to grow both businesses.
Cementing your Relationship with your Suppliers
You must be are wondering, “how can my suppliers and I get what we want and still be happy?”
Well, here are some tips to assist you to have a good relationship with your supplier.
- Contact them frequently – Call, email and ask how they are and what they are up to. Consider them as your ‘buddy’
- Pay your invoices on time –this is important. Should there be any delays, do let them know in advance
- Avoid rush orders as it may be stressful to your supplier and may hurt your relationship
- Report and document damaged goods promptly – Never hold back when there are issues with faulty goods
- Visit them at their offices and spend time off with each other to get to know how both your businesses better
Suppliers can be the hardest people to deal with because they are human and run a business just like you. You need to understand that people are different and require varying approaches. Finding a good and trusted supplier can be a daunting and even intimidating task.
However, though, there are pointers that guide you through the selection process. And they are reliability, stability, and location. Here’s a simple formula for you:
Building and maintaining good relationships with suppliers like with any other relationship requires time. The most important thing to remember is everyone has a right to his/her own opinion. And should there be any disagreement, it should be resolved as soon as possible. Communication is key to reaping the benefits of productive working relationships with your suppliers.
ContributorDallas Dorrall is passionate about music and is living her dream managing and promoting Nashville/Muscle Shoals based Country Music Artist, Johnny Collier, currently touring the US. While traveling, she enjoys reviewing new artists, restaurants and nightclubs. Dallas is crazy about her family and friends and attributes her enthusiasm for life to a quote by Marianne Williamson (which she still reads every day) entitled “Our Deepest Fear”.