As the operator or purchasing manager of a business, it is your responsibility to forge solid vendor relationships. Whether you have worked with a supplier for decades or are in the initial stages of building a relationship, there is always room for improvement in the vendor relations arena. Below are five strategies to help you enhance your relationships with your suppliers.

1) Improve Vendor Relationships by Proactively communicating with your suppliers

Suppliers are often accustomed to manufacturers reaching out to them only when an urgent need arises. You will delight your suppliers and significantly improve vendor relationships by adopting a proactive approach and reaching out to them in advance about upcoming events and needs. Here are a few tips to foster proactive communication with your suppliers:

• Provide suppliers with a list of dates when your business will be closed
• Keep suppliers informed of any large orders you are expecting
• Let your suppliers know if you are planning to relocate, open a new office, or change banks

2) Notify your suppliers of any personnel changes

Communicating with your suppliers about personnel changes is important given the sensitivity of payments and financial information. Suppliers can be caught off guard if they receive a purchase order from a new member of your team and may worry if they are no longer receiving correspondence from one of your employees with whom they have worked for years. You can avoid these pitfalls by taking the following measures:

• Let your suppliers know of any new additions to your staff
• Provide notice of any upcoming departures on your team along with names of the staff who will replace them
• Notify your suppliers of any changes in ownership or management

3) Do not make unrealistic demands

No supplier deserves to be put in a situation that is impossible to win. Emergencies are unpredictable and there will certainly be times when you have an urgent need for products. However, you should make every effort to refrain from demanding lead times that are impossible to meet. For instance, if you know that standard lead time to produce fifty widgets is two weeks, you should avoid demanding that your supplier ship 1,000 units to you by the end of the week.

4) Abide by the payment terms you agreed upon with your suppliers

Few things are more destructive to a vendor relationship than failure to pay invoices on time. While an occasional oversight or late payment will not destroy a healthy relationship, consistent late payments or missed payments can threaten a long-standing relationship. You can avoid this pitfall and improve your relationship with your suppliers by following these tips:

• Ask your suppliers if they have a preferred method of payment (credit card, wire transfer, or check) and try to remit payments
• If, for any reason, you expect to be late with a payment, notify your supplier right away
• Invest in a cost-effective platform to streamline your procurement transactions with suppliers

5) Show your appreciation on a regular basis

There is no substitute for expressing your gratitude to your suppliers for their support. Here are a few ways that you can show your suppliers how much you appreciate their dedication to meeting your needs:

• Send your suppliers holiday cards signed by each member of your procurement team
• Thank your suppliers for their dedication to your business
• Recognize your suppliers on their anniversaries
• If a supplier expedites an order or does another favor for you, send a note or token of your appreciation

The Bottom Line

Trusted relationships with suppliers do not evolve on their own. They are the result of hard work and sustained effort on behalf of your procurement staff. By following the five measures above, you can steadily improve your supplier relationships and achieve greater efficiency. We invite you to contact us to find out how we can help you enhance your supplier relationships. Our cutting-edge Supplier Relationship Improvement Solutions are designed to help you delight your suppliers by streamlining your transactions with them. We look forward to serving as your trusted resource for procurement solutions….!