Building Good Vendor Relations

When running your business, regardless of how diversified it may be, you’re bound to be requiring products and services from a third party; vendors. Let’s face it, some activities are detrimental to be micro-managed yet essential for your business’ operations. Some examples would be; photocopying machine rental, cleaning and hygiene services, stationery supply and distilled drinking water delivery.

These may seem like cost centres, yet they should be viewed as operational expenses. Meaning, they are items and services you have to spend on in order for your business to function. Hence, it’s essential that you be on good terms with vendors. You don’t really want to know how unclean toilets would affect your workforce performance now, would you?

Below is a list of four key best practices to improve vendor relations:

  1. Vendors are hired because you need them – They solve a problem, give you an advantage, provide you with nifty tools… in simpler terms, they alleviate some of your business pains. Start seeing them as business partners and you’ll have more time and resources to focus on your profit centres.
  2. Talk to your vendors; they’re not psychic – Regardless of the credentials of the vendors, no two clients’ needs are exactly the same. Opening clear communication channels will ensure that you get the right level of service within mutually agreeable turnaround time. Depending on the nature of service or products they provide, you might want to schedule regular progress meetings to keep each other updated.
  3. Let vendors do their job and focus on yours – Once the terms of service have been laid out and agreed upon, let the vendors handle their responsibilities accordingly. Feedback any discrepancies and don’t meddle beyond noting changes in quality of service and turnaround time. If you start supervising the vendors more than running your business, you’ll be in deep trouble in no time. Remember; a vendor’s business is to let you focus on yours.
  4. Be wary of revolutionaries – If a personnel proposes doing a support function in-house as opposed to a currently contracted vendor, examine the potential scenario very closely. If it is within the proposer’s job scope and makes sense financially and in terms of objectives, then it might be worth considering. However, if you’re generally satisfied with the service quality of the vendor, why bother? As the old saying goes; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Do you have your own tips to share in this area? Feel free to post your comments.