If you are like most businesses, you interact with many vendors that keep your business running efficiently. In fact, the efficiency of your business is dependent upon some of your suppliers. Some are a necessary evil of running a business – like insurance. It is something we hope we never need but yet we need to have it just-in-case or by the legal requirements of your industry.
You probably know the names of suppliers who visit your business frequently such as your UPS driver, mail carrier or your pest control guy. You see these people on a regular basis and interact with them as your friend. You have a relationship with them. Do you have that same kind of relationship with your insurance agent? You should. Having a relationship means being able to call and add or delete something from your policy in a quick phone call. A relationship means your agent knows you are good for the money and can write a binder in minutes to protect you and square up later.
Have you ever completed a large credit card transaction and had your funds held up for several days? It is a routine process when a merchant runs a transaction larger than they are pre-approved for. Having a relationship with your credit card processor can free that money up in a single day. It may require the processor to personally guarantee the funds, meaning the processor takes a bath if the sale turns out to be fraudulent. Having a relationship with your credit card processor will likely earn their support and backing in getting your funds released.
Your approach to supplier relationships should be a part of your strategic plan since you are dependent on them. While you may be the customer paying your suppliers, they can end up in a dominant position over your business. Should find yourself in a position of having your insurance policy canceled or your credit card funds get stuck in a fraud review, relationships can be the key to a quick and positive outcome. You should place as much value in your suppliers as they do in you as a customer. Build a good supplier relationship and nurture it the same as you would with one of your own customers.
Being loyal to your essential suppliers is essential to your business’s good health and future growth. The benefits of having a relationship include many components such as sharing knowledge with you that may affect your business, getting new products before anyone else in your industry does, obtaining better pricing, discounts and promotional products. The most important benefit is money matters. If you find yourself in a cash crunch, a supplier who has a relationship with you will be more likely to postpone debt, waive late fees or provide a financing plan. This alone is invaluable.
Personalize your relationship with vendors. Visit them at their office. Invite them to a staff meeting. Invite them to your company parties and make them feel like part of your team. Take them to lunch instead of always letting them treat you to lunch as their show of appreciation. Show your appreciation of them. Make sure your vital suppliers know who your key staff members are. If you have a promotion you want to share, your suppliers will become great messengers for your business…. if you have a relationship with them.