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Keep 'Em Sweet: The Secrets of Successful Supplier Relationships

Great suppliers and vendors that give your business what it needs to succeed are like gold dust. And if you find a great partner, you need to do everything within your power to keep hold of them. At the end of the day, developing first class relationships with your suppliers is as important as it is to your customers. The big question is - what can your business do to cultivate meaningful and profitable relationships with your vendors? Let’s take a closer look and find out. 

Pay up on time 

It won’t be a surprise to anyone to hear that paying on time - every time - is the single most important thing you can do to start off on the right foot with your vendors. Just like you, your suppliers are likely to be operating on thin margins and need cash flow to keep their company running smoothly. Also, you will often find that over time, as long as you pay up on time, some vendors might reward your good payment history with better terms and deals

Outline a clear plan

You should try and treat your suppliers as a key partner in your business, and that will involve establishing clear and achievable goals. Discuss how you will measure success, talk about how you will provide feedback, and create an environment of understanding between yourselves. Don’t forget it is a two-way, symbiotic relationship, too. Your suppliers need your business, and your business needs their product or service. 

Organize your contracts 

Contracts are a vital part of any vendor/business relationship, as they establish the ‘rules of engagement.’ Using tools such as Symfact Contract Management Software can help you organize your contracts with each supplier from one place. The larger your business grows, the more complicated contract organization will become, so the earlier you set up the foundations for success, the better. 

Communication and patience are essential 

As with any other relationship, great communication is vital if you want it to last the distance with your suppliers. They need to know exactly what you want and need, and you need to know the same from them. Regular meetings are vital, and it’s also important to understand that they have other customers to deal with, too. You have to be patient, and the reality of dealing with suppliers is that they could also have relationships with your competitors. Take your time, communicate well, and you will find that over time your relationship starts to improve. 

Problems will happen 

Finally, you also have to understand that accidents, mistakes, and challenges will arise. And if you go in all guns blazing, blaming your supplier rep or talking tough to the owner, it’s not going to end well for you. Yes, they need your business, but the reality is that you may need them more. Work with your suppliers, and resolve your issues together, and your future should be a lot more secure than it would be by making constant complaints. 

Do you have any tips to add? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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