John C. Maxwell said, “Teamwork makes the dream work, but the vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team”. This quote applies well when looking at an organization’s supply chain, which is the network of organizations that participate in producing goods or providing services. The purpose of the network is to work well together, to facilitate the flow and transfer of goods and services, from raw material extraction through use by the final consumer. Establishing and maintaining solid vendor relationships is crucial to customer service, cost efficiency, quality, and market development.
Vendors, as allies in business, can play a crucial role in the success or failure of an organization. Organizations should work to nurture their vendor relationships in the same manner that they focus on fostering customer loyalty. Having a great relationship with a supplier who has a vested interested in your business can prove to be beneficial in a number of ways:
- Cost Savings: When you are a good customer to your vendor, with consistent orders and on-time payments, this can lead to having volume discounts and special deals offered to your company.
- Timely Deliveries: For you to meet your obligations and provide excellent service to customers, you need to have the things you need on time. What’s great about having an excellent relationship with your vendor is they will prioritize you. They will deliver the goods ahead of time. In addition, they’ll make sure that you get the best goods.
- Vendor Support: When issues such as late or damaged shipments arise, the vendor will be prompt in their responses. More than likely, they’ll go beyond the bare necessities to fix your problem and compensate you for your trouble.
- Customization Opportunities: As the vendor understands the nature of your business more and more, they may be able to provide you with unique and exclusive products that can create a competitive advantage over other businesses in the marketplace.
- Customer Satisfaction: A strong client-vendor relationship can also impact another relationship: that of your customers/end users and your company. Because you are able to deliver goods and services on time and free from defects, your customers will enjoy doing business with you. This can foster loyalty and trust as they will feel that their money is well-spent.
The benefits noted above do not just magically appear overnight; businesses need to cultivate the vendor relationship. To have a balanced and mutually beneficial relationship, businesses can take steps to ensure they are an ideal client by:
- Promptly paying invoices. You can’t expect a cash payment discount if you’re late in payments. Contact vendors as early as possible if you’ll be delayed in payments.
- Allowing proper lead times for orders. Don’t place orders and expect them the next day. This is often a result of poor planning and inventory management, so make sure that you deal with those issues as well.
- Sharing lessons learned or customer preferences on products to allow for continuous improvement opportunities.
- Treating the vendor’s representatives with respect. Be considerate and fair because they represent your suppliers.
- Being transparent. Any issues you may have must be escalated properly and promptly.
The client-vendor relationship is a key component to the success of any organization. If not handled properly, it can lead to miscommunications, delayed products, and even a contentious relationship with the vendor. However, when properly executed, vendors take a vested interest in your business, leading to a greater integration of the supply chain and development of methods that can improve quality and lower costs as well as create a higher level of dependency between the customer and the supplier.