Skip to main content

If you are in the independent retail business, operate a services business that relies of products and tools to give quality work to customers, or you create custom products for customers, you rely on trusted suppliers to deliver products and raw materials when you request them. Suppliers are the core of your business, as they can deliver anything from paper clips to car parts and everything else in between.

For most small business owners, they only focus on three aspects concerning suppliers: price, delivery and quality. Yet you are missing out on so much more if you aren’t trying to build a solid relationship with your supplier. Suppliers offer a wealth of information in regards to their products that you can miss out on because you are only focusing on the amount on the invoice and logging it into your accounting records. Working as a cohesive team with your supplier can lead to several benefits for both parties.

5 ways to forge a supplier relationship

  1. Learn about the supplier and the products, materials or equipment they sell. Visit the supplier and see their operations firsthand. A supplier can give you details about their equipment or products that can enhance the way you use them, resulting in higher levels of productivity.
  2. Let suppliers tell you how to market their products. They can give important details that you may not have realised that can become fantastic selling points to customers.
  3. Inform suppliers about changes in your production process, product lines, or selling strategies. When suppliers know the information early on, they can begin adapting to supply changes so they are ready when you start making new orders.
  4. Pass on important business opportunities to your suppliers. They will appreciate the information and may also reciprocate in return to create the ideal “give-and-take” relationship with you.
  5. Address problems immediately with the supplier. Too many businesses are quick to blame quality and delivery problems on their supplier without communicating their concerns. Yet the problem may lie with outside forces that are beyond your supplier’s control. Also be aware that changes in the ordering process, delivery schedules, and expanding operations can cause delays.

With a strong relationship, you have better leverage to negotiate prices

Also understand that suppliers have bills to pay on their end. If you are uncommunicative about your needs, always demanding rush delivery, changing orders at the last minute and paying late on your invoices, these issues will only frustrate suppliers. They will be less keen to negotiate prices with a small business that is causing so many problems to the supplier’s operations.

Loyalty, understanding and a willingness to develop a partnership will be seen as advantages to a supplier, who will be more keen to lower their prices to maintain a good relationship with a dependable business versus one that is too demanding or lax in their payments.

Working with suppliers demands your attention and if managed properly will deliver in spades for your small business.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

This site is registered on as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.