Supplier Relationships

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Working effectively with suppliers is essential for developing great partnerships in business. But all too often, companies make mistakes in their relationships with their partners. One of the problems is that they don’t take cues from their personal relationships to guide their business relationships. This then reinforces the idea that supplier relationships are somehow different from other relationships.

Here are four  reasons why your supplier relationships aren’t going as well as you would like. 

  1. You Don’t Keep Channels Of Communication Open: Honesty and openness are the keys to any relationship. Without honesty, trust is impossible. When it comes to suppliers, trust is essential. You need to know that they will deliver what they say they will deliver. They need to know that you’ll pay up. Problems often start to emerge when there are discrepancies between what has been promised and what has been delivered. Invoicing problems, inventory shrinkage, and missing products can all create issues. The only way to resolve these conflicts is to be tirelessly open with your suppliers about what’s going on and your situation.
  2. You Don’t Use Technology To Maintain Transparency: The modern world has brought us all sorts of new ways to generate trust that simply weren’t possible in the past. We now have complex user-generated systems on the internet that help us ensure quality. Just look at how important reputation is on eBay. Now technology, like EDI integration software, helps companies better manage their relationships with suppliers. Businesses that share their data through such platforms build better lines of communication. They also command greater transparency. They’re able to collect more data, too. This helps them to demonstrate that their relationships with suppliers are beneficial. Automating basic tasks like invoicing and scheduling help to reduce errors further. This, in turn, builds trust and eliminates conflict.
  3. You Expect Your Suppliers To Work For You And Only You: Your suppliers don’t just work for you. They’ve often got hundreds of different clients, all of whom are demanding their time and effort. This is one of the reasons why it’s worth cutting your suppliers some slack. It’s unlikely that any supplier will be able to meet all of your needs, instantaneously. Companies that demand instant service from their suppliers actually end up harming the relationship. Suppliers will often compartmentalize problem customers. Sometimes, they can even break off ties with those businesses early. It’s far better to cajole and motivate your suppliers to work better for you than it is to come down on them like a ton of bricks.
  4. You Always Blame Your Suppliers: Granted, suppliers are often the source of the problem in your supply chain, but not always. Often problems in your own business can affect your supplier processes. Before you get into an argument with your supplier, ask if your business was to blame for the problem. Open conversations help to keep supplier relationships healthy.
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