A good reputation can take years to build, but can be lost in seconds.
Suppliers who let you and your customers down give you poor service and are gambling with your reputation.
When it all goes horribly wrong
A coaching client of mine sold a product for a customer’s home. He placed an order with his supplier to deliver and install the product. The item was expensive so my client took a deposit to pay the supplier in full.
The supplier delivered the product late.
When it was delivered, the engineer arrived at the wrong time of day and inconvenienced the customer.
While rushing the installation the engineer damaged the product. The customer rightly felt that the product was sub-standard.
The customer complained to my client and held the balance of the money until the product had been fitted to their expectations.
My client had to wait several weeks for the supplier to remedy the situation, causing him a lot of stress and impact on his cash flow.
The supplier eventually remedied the situation, giving the customer a free warranty upgrade.
But my client didn’t get anything extra for his trouble, stress and time.
What makes a good supplier?
Do you have suppliers gambling with your reputation?
Here are four steps to protect yourself.
Step #1: Build Relationships
Be a “face” to your supplier and not just a number.
Build a relationship with your contact, spend a few moment chatting with them about any common interests when you call, football, holidays, children, etc.
Relationship building is like depositing into a bank account, a relationship bank account. When something goes wrong and you need your supplier’s help you’ll notice a big difference in the support you get if you’ve kept that bank account in credit.
If you don’t build relationships you will go overdrawn just at the time when you need help.
Step #2: Build Understanding
Help your supplier understand your business.
Take time to explain what you do, how you work and the things that are important for you from your supplier.
Give your supplier time to do the same.
This understanding adds credit to the relationship bank account and helps the supplier engage with you.
Build understanding with any supplier who provides either a product that you sell or a service that you rely on for your business.
Your landlord, accountant, lawyer, printer, and IT company are all suppliers. Build understanding and engagement with each of these.
Step #3: Build Fair Terms
Supply arrangements only work when each party gets something fair out of the arrangement.
You may feel great when you negotiate more discount from a supplier but remember that if your supply relationship becomes unfair and the supplier doesn’t feel he’s getting something he’ll become disengaged and you’ll struggle to motivate him to help you when you have issues.
Step #4: Build Respect
Keep your language professional.
Very few people work well when they are being shouted at and one of the quickest ways to lose respect with a supplier is to be unprofessional in the way that you talk to them, either in person, on the telephone, or in writing.
Establish payment terms with your supplier and stick to them.
Paying a supplier late will lose you respect, affect your discount, and damage how far they will go to help you.
Paying late affects their cash flow, which has a cost so won’t get you the best terms.
If you can’t pay on time let your supplier know, respect is built on good, clear communication.
How’s your supplier relationship bank account looking?
Would you like to know more about selecting good suppliers, reviewing your suppliers relationships and what to do when a good supplier relationship turns bad?
I’ll be publishing future posts about these topics and others that will help you manage this important area of your business and ensure no one is gambling with your reputation.
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