No matter what kind of business you run, you’ll likely need to work with suppliers in some capacity. A supplier is any business that provides the products or services that your business needs in order to operate. Selecting good suppliers and working well with them is critical to your business’s success. The following tips will give you a helpful starting point for making the most of these important relationships:
Types of suppliers
Anything your business needs that you don’t provide yourself will probably come from a supplier. An article for Entrepreneur identifies four key supplier categories: manufacturers, distributors, independent craftspeople, and importers. Vendors can also include internet providers, landlords, accounting firms, and any other entity that provides your business with the goods and services it requires.
What to look for in a supplier
As you seek vendors for the needs of your business, you’ll want to make a list of which criteria are most important to you. Pricing is an obvious one, but don’t stop there. Courtenay Stevens of Business.org explains other key factors to consider include order turnaround time, quality assurance practices, frequency and clarity of communication, and payment and return policies. Entrepreneur notes you’ll also want to consider a supplier’s reputation and stability so you don’t get stuck with subpar goods or services.
Tips for working with suppliers
Abiding by a few best practices can help both your business and the vendors you’re working with. For starters, keep an eye on how well your vendor is performing and whether you’re getting good value for your money. Be sure to clearly communicate your expectations in these areas. The Balance Small Business’ James Bucki notes you’ll also want to focus on building mutually beneficial relationships with your vendors. As needed, share relevant information and key elements of your business’s strategy and priorities with your vendors so they can better meet your needs. Your suppliers may have valuable information of their own to share, too. As you work with suppliers, it’s also a good idea to aim for longer-term ties focused on trust, value, and win-win cooperation. This approach is more likely to work in everyone’s favor than one that emphasizes short-term savings.
Solving supplier problems
If you’re experiencing difficulties with a supplier, start by reaching out to determine whether it’s possible to fix the problem. Whether you’re seeking better pricing, stronger service and quality, or a closer working relationship, it’s important to make the request. Clearly communicating what you need is vital for getting the results you want from a vendor. In some cases, though, your supplier may not give you the desired pricing, quality, or other improvements you request. If the vendor is unresponsive to your needs or damaging your company’s reputation, it’s most likely time to move on and find a new supplier — the wellbeing of your business is at stake.
As you look to establish, sustain, or grow your business, it’s crucial to select the right suppliers and build strong relationships with them. Effective, high-value vendors are an important resource to help you satisfy customers and expand your profits.