The relationships we have with suppliers are often critical to our success in business. However, most business owners and managers don’t understand how they can leverage those relationships for better results and increased profitability. Here are 5 ways to get the most from your suppliers.
1. Invest in the relationship: Your suppliers can make or break your business if you let them. However, when we spend time to invest in the relationships with suppliers, we can create a win-win situation. Understanding from your sales reps the goals and values of their company and how they might align with yours are key. Put aside time to meet with supplier reps, tour their factories or warehouses, understand their products and services and how they can benefit your customers. Let them work with your teams and spend time on the relationship, and they will often look out for your best interests as well as your own.
2. Keep Them Accountable: Often suppliers and their reps will say they are going to do something for you. It's up to you to keep them accountable. Ensure that the sales reps are setting up meetings, not just dropping in at times that are inconvenient for you and your staff. Ensure that they are doing the job of providing value and servicing you regularly.
3. Communicate Clearly and Regularly: Good relationships are built on good communication. This means that even when times are tough you need to be communicating with your suppliers just as often as when you are doing well. Suppliers build their business by servicing you. If you are having trouble paying your bills, communicate this with them and explain how and when you will be able to make payments.
4. Use Your Suppliers Knowledge: Your suppliers have insights that you don’t. Ask your suppliers about what is selling in other regions for their other customers. Ask them for feedback on your product and service selection, your pricing. Ask your suppliers to educate your team so you can sell more.
5. Ask for Deals and Benefits: In my years of experience working with suppliers, I was often surprised when I asked for a deal from my supplier and was given something beyond my expectations. Your suppliers often have opportunities for special purchases, deals and benefits that are there for the asking. Whether it's coop money for advertising, swag for your team, new jackets, shirts, and even trips. Find out what your supplier's benefits might be and tap into them. Your suppliers want you to succeed and grow your business because when you buy more from them, pay your bills on time, and take advantage of their offerings, they are more likely to be successful as well. By keeping our suppliers healthy through our support, we keep our industry healthy, which supports increased innovation and overall growth.
Dave Fuller, MBA is an Award Winning Business Coach and the Author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Stuck in your Business? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a confidential conversation.