- Follow SOP For Customer Service
Value suppliers for their role in your business by observing standard operating procedures for service as you would for customers. While they are a means to an end for your product, your business relies on them, so choose to treat them as respectfully as you do customers. If you think of the supplier-customer relationship as a linear relationship through your shop, shift the thinking to consider the relationship as a cycle. From purchase order to delivery to payment to next purchase order, your relationship is more mutually beneficial. Give them as much respect as a customer.
- Develop A Partnership Mentality
Establish your supplier as a partner in your efforts to provide product. Invite your suppliers into your company to meet the buyer, the management team, and your critical staff. Go see their shop and let them put their best foot forward to show off what they can do for you. Break bread and send a holiday card every year to let them know that they’re more than a vendor; they’re an integral part of your business.
- Establish A Degree Of Transparency
Whenever you can, be honest and open about the business with your supplier. Times get tough; markets soften, products don’t sell as well as expected, and priorities shift. Be up front with them if orders are going to slow down or if your business just isn’t taking off like you had hoped. You are relying on them to provide you with your components; without them you can’t make your product. They are relying on you to place more purchase orders to continue to run their business. If you always paint a rosy picture of the future even though you see storm clouds ahead, your supplier may be blind-sided when you slow down orders. Don’t allow the suppliers to make assumptions about changes in business such as thinking you turn to competitors instead of working with them. Damaging the relationship with a good supplier can take years to repair or replace.
The Supplier Relationship Give-And-Take
Keeping your customers happy is critical in any business, but that is just one piece of the puzzle. Building and maintaining strong supplier relationships is another key step in maintaining a strong supply chain. Providing quality products on time to your customers is the backbone of keeping your customers happy, and your supplier can make or break this. Ensure a good relationship by putting in as much as you receive in service, goodwill, and business practices.