Boss Lady

Why it’s critical to look after your suppliers

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In business, and as a business coach, I’m often coaching clients to look after their staff or look after their customers and prospects.  We all know why that’s important, but an area that is often neglected is looking after your suppliers.  There are many reasons why it is incredibly important to look after and value your suppliers.

1. Look after your most valuable asset

Often suppliers (along with contractors and staff) are the greatest asset within a business.  Sometimes we forget to appreciate and say thanks to our suppliers (or staff) for many reasons.  Sadly, sometimes it’s because you figure that you’re paying them and that’s enough.  Imagine you’re a builder or a tradie who employs others.  Look after your guys and they will look after your jobs.  The builder or principle contractor who beats the workers down to the lowest price, expects extras for nothing, doesn’t give good notice and then takes ages to pay will pretty soon lose their top-quality workers.  People with exceptional skills will always find work – and if you’re a painful ‘boss’ they will move on.  They will instead go to and stay with the builder or contractor who values them, looks after them, is pleasant to work for, shows appreciation and pays them when they should.

2. One day you might need a big favour

When you are thankful or treat your suppliers well, people are people and a person (the supplier) will go that extra yard to help you out.  Imagine you need a product earlier than usual, or you need a special delivery, or you missed the deadline for orders, but because you have a great relationship with your supplier, if at all possible, they’ll try to accommodate you.  Imagine that item that you needed could be the difference between getting a job done on time and having a delighted customer, versus finishing late and losing a heap of goodwill.  Plus, when things get busy for the workers, they may have to drop some jobs and guess whose work will get dropped first?  Of course, it’s the builder or contractor who is hard to work for, pays lousy rates and always pays late.

3. Sweet as candy

Sweet does work!  We all know that honey gets more flies than vinegar and that works on many levels.  I remember years ago I used to process payments for suppliers.  One particular plumber used to bring me a Cherry Ripe regularly … so when he asked me if he could get his cheque (back in the day of cheques) a day earlier than usual because he was over our side of town that day – well, why not?  The fact that there would be a Cherry Ripe coming my way that day … well, that helped to ‘sweeten’ the deal.  Some might call it bribery; I call it good relationship building.   : )

4. Situations can change

I remember when I first got divorced, I had to rent a house.  I had no tenancy history and I remember a local agent who I had personally known because his Dad owned the local shop that we had a fuel account with.  I’d always been pleasant to him and his dad, so when it came to becoming a renter – he was working for the real estate agency and put a good word in for me with the property manager.  I got the house.  I made sure I was the best tenant ever and later became a landlord myself.  I repaid the favour and used that agency to manage my property.  Situations can change and someone who was a supplier can sometimes become a customer or someone who can help you out.

5. Suppliers can be an exceptional source of information

A supplier (or someone working for a supplier) can have the opportunity to really access great information.  You might have a technical difficulty and need some tips or advice.  It might be a change in the trend of an industry or something which is changing in your area.  They may have connections to other businesses or suppliers that could be useful for your business.  So next time you’re talking to your supplier, stop and have a moment with them.  When you’re on your way to a wholesaler and you’re picking yourself up a coffee, why not grab one for them too?  No one does something thoughtful like that, so imagine how much you will stand out – and be remembered!

6. A supplier could be a great referral source

Don’t underestimate the value of a supplier when it comes to referrals.  I know certainly in the building industry, many of the supply companies like Reece or Go Electrical will promote their tradie customers.  Another customer may be in the store buying stock and be asking questions that the supplier knows, they need a tradesperson.  For that reason, next time you’re in picking up stock or ordering with your supplier, ask about the opportunity to have your business cards at the counter.  If you’re over-demanding, rude or unfriendly to your supplier, why in a million years would they bother to do you a favour, let alone recommend someone to use your service?  You might be great at what you do, but people want to do business with people they like, know and trust.

7. Good karma

Being pleasant to others is just nice.  What goes around comes around and if you’re a pleasant person who is fair and easy to deal with, then people are more likely to want to deal with you.  You will also find you are happier at work, enjoy more of what you are doing and more likely to attract other like-minded and positive and friendly people.

A supplier can have a massive impact on a business; before selecting your supplier, be sure to do your due diligence.  Cheap is not always a key factor.  You want to ensure they are reliable, that they provide great customer service, they have excellent product knowledge AND where relevant they will be around to honour warranties or provide support.  Once you’ve done all that research and found a good supplier, be sure to look after that relationship … for all of the many reasons outlined above.  Great suppliers will grow with you and be an integral aspect of your business success.  Look after your suppliers (and staff) and they will help you look after your customers, who in turn will look after your bottom line.

About Donna Stone

Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to be a multi-award winning operation that spanned five locations nationally. Donna works with business owners and other business coaches, consultants and trainers to help them build their own success. Her Coach the Coach ™ program has proved exceedingly popular. Donna is a prolific writer with hundreds of articles written and six books published. Visit www.donna-stone.com.au

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