Despite the massive impact they can have on your bottom line, countless business owners manage to neglect the state of their supplier relationships. If you make a point to nurture your relationships with your suppliers, it can lead to generous contract terms, more favourable prices, and even the odd buyback here and there. Fail to do so, and your business is inevitably going to suffer. Here’s a few tried and tested tips for great supplier relationships.
Know What They Need from You
Due to the fact that your suppliers have several different customers and several relationships they need to maintain, it can be very helpful to know what they need from you as a buyer. Different suppliers will have different documentation they need you to fill out, and various preferences regarding that documentation. Some will want a good ol’ Excel spreadsheet filled in and emailed with every single order, whereas others will have cloud-based forms they want you to complete, with various details included. You may have several suppliers, but in order to keep your relationships amicable and mutually beneficial, you need to play ball with all of them, completing and filing documentation as and when they want it.
Avoid Pointing Fingers
Regardless of your business model, there are going to be problems. Even the best suppliers will make mistakes, or become a victim of circumstance. It’s just a matter of time. When these things happen, don’t call up the sales rep and rant at them about how much they’ve screwed things up for you. This will only create fresh problems. Instead, try to work with the supplier in order to find a solution. Yes, that timber mat that arrived late may have been essential for a big project you had coming up, but pointing fingers won’t get you anywhere. Explain the issue calmly to your supplier, and talk things over with them to make the best of a bad situation. This can pay off further down the line if and when you make a mistake. If you accidentally order too much of a product, for example, the supplier will be much more inclined to initiate a buyback if you were professional and understanding the last time they caused a problem.
Set Clear, Achievable Goals
Realistic and measurable goals are essential for the smooth execution of anything in business, and achieving good supplier relationships is no exception. A lot of wholesalers will ask for estimates on how many of their products a retailer expects to sell in a certain period, so that they may then give feedback to the manufacturers. Distributors, on the other hand, will want to have a keener understanding on the kinds of orders they should be making from their suppliers. If you share clear goals and estimates with your suppliers, you’ll make it so much easier for the wholesaler to mold their operations around your business, and therefore benefit both parties.
If you’ve had a history of shaky supplier relationships, then try applying this advice and seeing if you can turn the pattern around.