When it comes to managing relationships with vendors, too often businesses focus solely on getting the lowest price and neglect other actions that can help develop strong business relationships. While that may seem prudent from a shortterm “bottom line” perspective over time it’s an approach that can backfire and wind up costing you more. Building strong vendor relationships isn’t rocket science, but it does take some special skills and understanding. Here are six tips to help you get started:
● Share your goals. Your vendors are in business too, which means they may share at least some of the same goals as your company. When you explain your overall goals and priorities, you create a feeling of partnership that can help strengthen relationships and ensure the services or products they provide will be more focused on those needs. For instance, letting vendors know about a new products launch that may require quicker turnaround or other resources from their end helps them anticipate your needs so you both achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. And don’t forget to show your interest in their company by asking them questions about their own goals and look for ways to provide knowledge or guidance when you can.
● If you have a vendor who supplies a service or product critical to your business, ask them for their opinion on strategic moves like rollout dates or minimum thresholds for buying that can help your business run more efficiently. Your vendor will be more likely to work harder when they feel they’re essential to your company.
● Remain loyal – as long as it doesn’t come with significant costs. Just like you, vendors want longterm relationships with their customers, and if you demonstrate your willingness to remain loyal month after month, you’re more likely to get better deals as well as access to expert or “insider” knowledge about products or services you use. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should pay exorbitantly higher prices for that privilege, but it does mean you should avoid switching from one vendor to another just to save a few nickels and dimes. By remaining with the same vendors over time, you can potentially reap much larger savings.
● If you have the resources, assign one person to manage your vendors. Duties include reaching out to each vendor with phone calls and inperson visits when possible, as well as resolving issues and answering questions to ensure the relationship remains as strong as possible.
● Have a written agreement for each vendor that spells out your company’s policies as well as expectations to set the tone initially, then follow up with specific expectations, including pricing and turnaround times, for each order. Make sure you have a record that shows the paperwork (or emailattachments) was received and by whom to avoid miscommunication or mistakes that can cast a cloud over vendor relationships.
● Remember: Sometimes, you have to give something to get something. While getting a good price is important, be willing to negotiate a winwin agreement that benefits both you and your vendor, especially if you have special needs like an unusually fast turnaround time or unexpectedly high volume. Building any relationship is a two way street, and it takes time to make sure it’s strong and mutually beneficial. Considering the relationship from the vendor’s side and then working toward solutions and actions that satisfy both your needs will help you strengthen your bond so you both can profit. BankTEL’s agile software applications provide robust solutions for managing vendor relationships and managing risks. Learn more about BankTEL Systems by visiting our solutions page or use our online contact form to speak with a representative.