How To Develop And Maintain Effective Supplier Relationships

How To Develop And Maintain Effective Supplier Relationships

Lasting business relationships are built on trust and mutual growth. Whilst your own bottom line will always be of primary concern, life is a lot simpler if you can develop and maintain effective supplier relationships, as this makes dealing with people from businesses you work with a whole lot easier. Here’s how to do this.

Create Productive Dialogue

A lasting relationship between supplier and recipient will have productive and meaningful dialogue. And you can start this from the moment you first interact with a business.  At some point, whatever your line of work, you will have heard your industry described as “a people business”. This is because how individuals at another company behaves is remembered.

Make sure that all dialogue between the supplier and buyer is productive. The supplier is there to satisfy the requirement of the buyer. Solving this need efficiently and smoothly is the key to building a working relationship.

Right from the initial quote stage you should bare this in mind, as well as considering all of the following too.


Realise You Both Deserve Success

Friendships might naturally emerge the longer you work together, but that is separate to the fact that both parties need success from the relationship. Elm Workspace is an office fit out contractor and this is our area of expertise, although we love what we do (we really do), we also do it to make a profit. Our clients understand this.

A good supplier also acknowledges the fact that their buyer also has their own interests to look out for, hence why we always advise a minimum of three tender prices for any project. We prescribe to the belief that everything has a fair price; instead of hooking in work with artificially low prices and hidden costs. This will undermine all trust in the supplier relationship.

But, at the same time, a lasting relationship between supplier and buyer will have more likelihood of developing into something mutually beneficial if both parties acknowledge the fact that profit is not a dirty word, even if and when you become friends, down the line.

Both parties deserve success. Loyalty should be rewarded, but not exploited. This will lead to mutual growth from the relationship.


Be Understanding

And for that to happen, there needs to be a measure of understanding.

Understanding that, sometimes, a little discount just cannot be offered this month. And, likewise, understanding that a small business can have a hiccup with cashflow, so an invoice might be paid literally a couple of days late, but there’s no need to evoke penalty charges because every other one has been paid on time.

Understanding breeds trust. And trust develops into an effective relationship with your suppliers and buyers.


Be As Transparent As Possible

To a point, transparency is a good thing.

There are standard Cost Plus contracts in use within construction and there may be similar equivalents in your own industry. Under a contract where the value of work is set at an agreed percentage uplift on the cost price, both parties know where they stand, exactly.

Though, granted, this might work on public contracts worth dozens if not hundreds of millions of pounds, but not be practical in terms of of an office supply company catering for an SME.

But transparency can be built in other ways.

Being open and honest about mistakes and mishaps – missing the post, operator error inputting a delivery date, requesting the wrong amount – should be agreed as way of doing business together. This will mean that both parties can keep building the trust to allow the relationship to develop into a long and productive agreement.


Be Punctual

Coming clean about issues, revealing mistakes or making new requests should be done as soon as possible. The latter in particular. This will allow the supplier to offer maximum flexibility and potential savings, as their respected buyer will be providing them with early entries into the order book.

Likewise, the supplier should have the product arrive on time, every time. If there are ever any issues (and there will be), notify the buyer as soon as possible.

Then follow this through to all the paperwork, especially the issuing and paying of invoices.


Be Organised

Being organised is key to all of this.  The more organised both parties are, the more likely mistakes will be avoided. And, along with honest and productive dialogue, the fact that neither party is prone to making mistakes is what will create a lasting relationship between a supplier and a buyer.


Have Something From Us

In the interest of building lasting relationships, we have put together a free checklist to help with buying office furniture online. If you are interested in replacing your office furniture, this checklist will help work out exactly what you need, organise your order and keep all the key information handy.

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