No matter the economic environment, building long-term mutually beneficial relationships has proven beneficial. Think of your own personal life. When you have a problem, who do you turn to for help? In most cases it will be your family and close friends. Well, the same principals can be said for your business relationships. Like a close friend your supplier can be there to help and support you through whatever crisis you’re experiencing.
In friendship, as in business, the end goal should always be both long-term and mutually beneficial. By starting off the relationship with the intentions of creating trust and alignment, you’ll find it much easier to develop a positive alliance. With that comes better payment terms, priority manufacturing status, orders on consignment, or order discounts if/when needed. Ultimately treating your suppliers with respect is central to developing long-term mutually beneficial results.
How to Successfully Start a New Supplier Relationship
1. Be up front – Don’t mislead your new supplier to get better pricing. There’s no long-term gain by telling a little white lie. Instead, be straightforward. Tell the supplier what your marketplace looks like, the challenges you have and exactly how much you’re prepared to buy. The more transparent you are, the more the supplier will understand your challenges and be prepared to help you achieve your goal.
2. Treat suppliers with respect – Treating a supplier disrespectfully at any point during the relationship will be problematic. However, it’s particularly important to treat suppliers with respect right from the start. Show them you want to be there for the long-term. Build a strong foundation right from your very first interaction.
3. Be patient – An important factor in building a relationship is patients and understanding. When starting with a new supplier mistakes will be made and problems will have to be worked through. When this happens don’t run for the hills or switch to the next guy. Tell your supplier it’s a stumbling block but we will turn it into a building block and move on.
4. Go beyond – An ideal way to keep in your supplier’s good books is to exceeding expectations. When the opportunity arises help the supplier become better at their craft. Through product feedback or market feedback, help them improve their processes and capability.
5. Pay as close attention – Be as close and connected to your supplier as you can be. A close relationship can bring many benefits, protected territory, preferred pricing or product exclusives. All these advantages add up and will make a real difference to your bottom line.