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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.