Are you getting the best deal from your suppliers? Are they giving you their best service or prices? They might or might not be – it all depends on your relationship with them.
Whether we want to admit it or not, favouritism probably subconsciously exists within every business. Companies will offer better prices, services or customer service to a select few clients. There are numerous reasons why this might happen – and not normally because of the revenue they generate.
So how can you get on the preferred customer list? Here are some good suggestions:
1. Pay Quickly
This is a simple one – the quicker you pay from the time of receipt of an invoice, the better your vendors will perceive you. It gives the impression of great organisational skills and professionalism. It also gives you a lower risk factor, so when you need something, they will be more willing to act quickly.
Delaying payment can be harmful to your business in other ways too.
2. Limit Favour Requests
When you are buying a service, you are dealing with another business. They will have similar pressures as you – productivity, cash flow, and revenue generation. So, when you ask them for favours constantly, you’ll be seen as a cost rather than a valued customer.
While it is okay to ask for the odd favour, constantly asking for favours is going to damage your relationship. It is best to be rather low-key the majority of the time and then when you really need a favour, you’ll find suppliers will go above and beyond the call-of-duty for you.
3. Share Their Name
You might not want people to know about the support you get, but if you do, you might get more. Use your social media networks to share the news about the great service you receive from a supplier and they’ll see you in a better light.
If you go one step further and personally recommend them to your contacts in network meetings; they might give you a lot more in return.
4. Give Constructive Feedback
Not everything delivered to you is going to be perfect. Sometimes service providers will give you a product that needs a little adjustment. If you respond by just saying it isn’t good enough, then your service provider isn’t going to fix the error. Firstly, they won’t know what to fix or how.
Secondly, you’re negatively responding to their service, and this is enough to frustrate most suppliers.
Instead, respond to the supplier with positive feedback. Tell them two things that are right for everything that needs to improving. Make it seem as if the product is close, even if it needs significant rework.
Remember that sometimes, early on in client relationships; it can take time for the supplier to discover your preferences in certain areas.
Don’t jump to conclusions either when there is an issue. Sometimes the barrier to success is something unrelated to the work. Talk to the vendor about the issue and come to a joint conclusion to the cause and what can be done to solve the problem.
5. Respect Working Hours
This is very important. Technology in the past decade has made it easier for us to contact people 24-hours a day. That doesn’t mean we should!
You might be up at midnight on a Sunday working on a project – but that doesn’t mean that your contact or the staff at your supplier is. They will probably have set working hours, so respect these. Don’t expect a call-back within hours but within 24-48 hours.
Also, take an appropriate level of interest in your supplier’s personal lives. Show you care and respect their downtime. After all, relaxation is important as it improves productivity and the quality of work they produce.
6. Respect Lead Times
Another major issue that has resulted from the development of technology, is that many clients now expect all work to be done immediately. Remember that your suppliers aren’t just servicing you. They might have dozens or even hundreds of customers on their books. They can’t just bump you to the top of the list; it will anger both them and their other customers.
In addition, most products and services have lead times. You need to respect this. As a writing company, we prefer titles at least one week ahead of the delivery. This is so we have time to research, write, edit, proofread, format and deliver writing. It’s is a long process.
That isn’t to say we can’t do urgent projects; we can accept titles 48-hours before the deadline, but we prefer earlier.
We recently had a client contact us about a title and whether we could write it and deliver it by the end of the day. It was already 4 pm when we got the request. Simply, it was too short noticed. We agreed on 48-hours instead and delivered within 24 – partly because they always pay on-time and they don’t ask for this very often.
Your suppliers are important people. The right supplier can propel your business to the top of your niche. The better the relationship between you and your suppliers, the more they will be willing to do for you outside of your agreed services and the more value you can get from the relationship.
Therefore, respect your suppliers and let them see the benefits of working with you.
How do you let your suppliers know you care? How have customers treated you recently?
Let us know your stories in the comments below.