Build a stronger relationship with your suppliers

It can take time and research to find the right suppliers for your business. Once you’ve found the right fit, it’s important to develop a productive and professional relationship.

Developing supplier relationships

Our tips below can help you develop a great relationship with your suppliers.

Communication

  • Set up regular times to contact your suppliers. Discuss your needs in an open and honest way.
  • Discuss any issues or concerns early and work with your supplier to find a resolution.
  • Actively listen to advice and feedback. Your business is likely to be important to your suppliers (after all you make them money too!) and they may have information that could save you time and money in the long run.
  • Sometimes goods may not arrive in the condition you expect. For example, items may have been damaged, or something might have been left behind. It’s important that you contact your supplier and talk to them about the issue as soon as you can.
  • You should keep track of your supplier’s performance. This will give you information and examples if you need to go back to your supplier to discuss any changes in the way you do business together.
  • Chatting regularly with your supplier about performance and expectations will help you when it’s time to renegotiate contracts as you both already understand each other.

Establish solid processes from the beginning

  • Agree on a standard ordering process and make sure that you both understand your responsibilities.
  • Pay your accounts on time. If for some reason you can’t pay on time, get in touch early and let them know when you’ll be able to settle the bill or set up a payment plan.
  • Stay organised. Try not to change or rush orders unless it’s absolutely necessary. Making unrealistic demands or frequently changing your orders will frustrate your suppliers and could damage your relationship.

Good relationship = Good stock control

Having a great relationship with your suppliers is essential for your stock control. It could also help you manage your customers’ expectations and give them realistic wait and delivery times.

The right supplier might be able to:

  • help you to reduce your stock control costs  (e.g. you could negotiate 30-day payment terms with your customers and 45-day terms with your suppliers meaning you wouldn't have your cash flow tied up in stock)
  • hold stock for you
  • ship stock directly to customers on your behalf
  • let you know when they have sales or new stock arrivals.

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