Having strong vendor relationships goes a long way to achieving success. Good vendor management is all about ensuring communication and supply lines are clear and maintained, so that your vendors are happy and you get the goods and services you need, when you need them. Keeping relationships healthy benefits both parties and means that you have a reliable supplier that you can plan future decisions around. As vendor resource management is so vital for your outcomes, we’ve put together five tips on how to improve and maintain your relationships.
- Play the long game
Vendor relationships should be built to last. Focusing solely on short-term costs or immediate benefits, such as first year discounts might seem like a win but have negative effects over the course of your relationship. It’s important to factor in a vendor’s long-term prospects, such as their ability to scale up operations when necessary when choosing your vendor.
This will help you maintain a positive relationship as you both move in the same direction. Otherwise you may end up in a situation where the partnership becomes strained or breaks due to missed deadlines or inability to provide what’s required.
- Work out a mutually satisfying contract
The basis for all of your future interaction with a vendor is decided by the initial contract you sign. Take the time to come up with a solution that is a good result for both sides. If you have invested in finding a good vendor then there’s no point in risking your relationship over disputes.
Also, don’t be afraid to build faith and goodwill by listening to your vendor’s needs and accepting certain points that offer minimal risk on your end. This will show you are willing to compromise and work on building your partnership.
- Communication is key
While you may have regular contact with your vendors this is not necessarily the same thing as having good communication. Make sure to arrange meetings, either physical or online, which are dedicated to measuring the progress of your partnership. Ask your vendor for their feedback and how they think things might be changed or improved. This means you can catch potential problems before they arise and keep tabs on how your relationship is progressing. Good vendor management involves listening and adapting to changes in both of your situations.
- Involve vendors in your plans
Your vendors have specific industry understanding and skills that can be of great benefit to you and appreciating their knowledge builds strong relationships. They are already providing you with something you don’t have in-house, so why not tap them up for their thoughts on your future strategies as well. Apart from gaining expertise there are many benefits to this, such as showing your vendor that you value their opinion and allowing both companies to factor these aligned goals into their plans.
- Keep KPIs at the forefront
Key performance indicators (KPIs) can help your vendor resource management by giving you clear visibility of how the partnership is going. Relationships can often be clouded by other factors but with the right data being monitored, it is easier to see if expectations are being met. If these KPIs are communicated regularly with the vendor both of you will be fully aware of whether targets are on course and if any action needs to be taken. It also allows feedback to be given on an objective basis which helps your relationship by removing possibilities for personal bias in decision-making on both sides.