Maintaining a good relationship with suppliers and every other vendor is crucial in business management. Having great suppliers as part of a business improves both the service to the customers and business efficiency. Many companies take supplier relationships for granted, and this shouldn't be the case. A strong supplier relationship is an asset for businesses that desire growth and expansion in the market or to transcend into new markets. In this post, we will analyse how best a company can maintain a good relationship with suppliers for sustainability and better collaboration.
Ensure that the values of your suppliers align with yours
Your ideology must align with that of the suppliers, ensure that you all agree on specific standards, terms, and conditions. If some of your values are excellent customer service, quality products, or speedy delivery, choose suppliers who share the same value and see them as paramount standards to adhere to. For example, your warranty or return policies should align with that of your suppliers, as it will be challenging to maintain a good relationship with a business with no return policy in place. Always consider their ethics, values, brand positioning, and reputation.
Understand your supplier
Understand their needs, expectations, capabilities, production capacity, operational procedures, goals, and challenges. This can be done by conducting research, interviews with other businesses collaborating with the supplier, surveys, feedback sessions, and website visits. Find out what is important to them, the processes to follow in partnering with them, their timelines, what they require from you, etc. This will help to gain insights into their strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, as well as their expectations and preferences.
Consistent and clear communication
To build trust between you and your suppliers, keep all communication channels open and be always transparent, as this will prevent communication breakdown between you and the suppliers. Communicate your needs, requirements, expectations, and performance standards while observing the feedback provided. Properly communicate your concerns and dissatisfaction with their services accurately and timely, as this will help them address the situation adequately and timely.
Provide and receive honest feedback:
Feedback can be tremendous or deflating, depending on performance. Things can't always go the way we anticipate, hence why there is always room for growth. When the communication channels are constantly open, it will create room for dialogue, especially when things are not going the right way, and decisions will be made on where and how to improve.
Understand and respect contractual agreements
Before engaging with a supplier, ensure that there is a written contract or agreement that governs the business relationship, highlighting expectations, terms, and conditions of the deal, needs and demands from all parties involved, system of payment, and every other thing that is involved in the business relationship. This contract provides confidence that the supplier is delivering what they are being paid for, and in return, the supplier will have confidence that they will be paid for the services they provide.
Collaborating and exploring other opportunities
Another way to strengthen your relationship with your suppliers is to involve them in your planning, decision-making, and problem-solving processes. You can ask for their ideas and expertise on specific issues. You can also explore other opportunities with them by creating joint projects with them, exploring other markets, or creating a formidable team to work on collaborative projects.
Fair negotiation and compromise
Negotiation is a powerful aspect of business relationships and entails business relationships with your suppliers. To develop and maintain such a healthy relationship with your suppliers, there must be fair negotiation and compromise from both parties. Understand that you are not enemies or competitors, but instead, you are partners and must look out for each other so that at the end of the day, both parties will benefit from the relationship and not record loss.
Never make promises you cannot keep
To secure business deals, people tend to agree to every condition given to them and end up making promises they can't keep. Understand that you can always say no before a contract is signed, and there will always be better opportunities. When you realise you cannot fulfill an obligation, speak up and express your opinion. This way, your supplier will know that you are honest and can stand up for yourself or what you believe in and will respect you.
For any business, a strong supplier relationship will help navigate issues and disagreements and make negotiating and striking a more substantial deal easier. Supplier relationships should provide growth, expansion, credibility, and success opportunities.
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