It’s true that any business is only good as its people. In the trades, this saying not only includes your employees, but also your suppliers. That’s why it’s important to nurture these relationships. Investing some time and effort into building strong relationships with your suppliers will not only help you negotiate better deals, but also keep you on their good side in case you need an urgent favour. Here are five things tradies can do to improve supplier relationships.
1. Pay your bills on time
The number one rule for maintaining positive supplier relationships is to respect their payment terms. Late payments can hurt your suppliers’ cash flow and reduce their ability to give you want you need. Constantly chasing overdue invoices also puts an extra admin burden on them, which can quickly lead to mounting frustration and a deteriorating relationship.
2. Set clear expectations
New suppliers might not automatically understand what you expect from them. That’s why it’s important to be transparent. Set out defined guidelines for your relationship and be clear about the level of product quality, customer support, and delivery time frames you expect. This will ensure you’re on the same page and help prevent misunderstandings.
3. Communicate openly
A little communication goes a long way. Your suppliers can’t read your mind, so if you’re unsatisfied with an aspect of their work or service, talk to them about it and give them the opportunity to improve. You should also always communicate if your needs or the scope of a project change. After all, keeping your suppliers in the dark will do nothing to help improve their performance – or your relationship.
4. Share positive feedback
Give credit where credit is due. If your suppliers are doing a great job, tell them about it every now and then. Many suppliers use positive feedback to determine where they add value to their clients’ businesses. So, if you value something they are doing well, let them know. Complimenting each other’s work can help strengthen the bond between your businesses. On the other hand, if they don’t know where they stand with you, they might even choose to cut the service.
5. Be diplomatic
If you’re looking to build and maintain good business relationships, a certain level of diplomacy is advisable. Throwing demands at your suppliers and expecting them to leap at your command is often not well received. Rather, take a consultative approach to reach a solution that works for both of you. If you get a reputation as an unreasonable client, good suppliers might not want a relationship with you at all.