As a small business law firm, we understand that finding reliable vendors is crucial for the success of your business. However, it is not just about finding vendors that can deliver quality work or products. Instead, it is about fostering long-lasting partnerships that benefit both parties involved. We have worked with countless small business owners over the years, and we have seen first-hand how investing time and effort into building strong vendor relationships can pay off in the long run.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the importance of vendor relationships for small businesses and sharing tips and insights that we’ve gained from our experience working with small business owners over the last 20 years.
- Communication is key. This may sound cliché, but it’s true. From the very beginning, make sure you’re communicating clearly and effectively with your vendor. Let them know your expectations, timelines, and budget. Keep them updated on any changes or issues that arise. Schedule regular check-ins to discuss progress, concerns, and any changes that need to be made. This will help build trust and keep the lines of communication open. And don’t forget to listen to them, too. They may have ideas or suggestions that can help your business.
- Build trust. Trust is crucial in any relationship, and vendor relationships are no exception. Be transparent and honest with your vendor, and expect the same in return. If there’s an issue, address it openly and work together to find a solution. When your vendor knows they can trust you, they’ll be more willing to go the extra mile for your business.
- Look for ways to add value. Don’t just see your vendor as a supplier of goods or services. Look for ways to add value to their business, too. This could be something as simple as a referral or a positive review. When you show that you care about their success, they’ll be more invested in yours.
- Make sure you have a contract in place. This protects both parties and outlines the terms of your working relationship. A good contract will include details such as the scope of work, payment terms, and termination clauses.
- Brainstorm what could go wrong. I know that you don’t want to do this step. No one wants to be “negative” in a relationship. I do get that. But it’s easier to try to anticipate what could go wrong and prepare for it than to try and solve the problem in the midst of heat and anger. It’s not that you think things WILL go wrong, it’s that if they happen to go wrong then there’s a plan in place. It reduces the risk in the relationship, which is what your business needs. There are enough risks out there that reducing some, where you can, only makes good business sense.Once you’ve thought about what could go wrong (i.e. it’s not delivered, not completed, not quality work, doesn’t happen, costs more than anticipated, etc.) then you can provide for that in your agreement. “If you don’t ____, then ____ will happen” type of language. And remember that it goes both ways so expect that consequences will be there for you, too.
- If it’s not a good enough deal for your business, walk away. This is the biggest mistake that I see. Clients feel they have no choice but to accept a bad deal. What they don’t realize, is that if it’s not a great deal on the face of it (assuming everything goes perfectly), then it’s a REALLY BAD deal if something goes wrong. You can’t just consider the potential upside without considering the potential downside. So it’s important to remember that there’s always the option of walking away. You always have a choice. There will always be another solution, even if you don’t see it yet. Don’t get in that place of feeling pressured and subject to the emotions of fear and doubt. After all, negotiations are about seeing if you can work together, and sometimes you just can’t. That’s the way it is.
- Finally, don’t be afraid to give feedback to your vendors. Let them know what’s working and what’s not, and be open to their suggestions as well. This can help to improve the quality of their work and strengthen your overall relationship.
At the endo of the day, taking the time and effort to build strong and lasting vendor relationships can only add value to your business. It’s not just about finding a vendor who can provide quality work or products, but about building a partnership based on communication, respect, trust, and mutual benefit. By establishing clear expectations with your vendors, you can create a positive and productive relationship that will help your business thrive. Remember, your vendors are an important part of your business ecosystem, and investing in these relationships is a wise decision that will pay off in the long run.