So you found a new supplier, that’s great! Here are some helpful tips towards long term success.
- First Impressions count!
When starting out or even after your business is established you’re probably going to be cold calling a wide variety of potential suppliers. Those first impressions will give you a basic sense of what they might be like to work with.
Watch out, for those that are slow to provide responses, images, product details, or shipping rates. It may mean they don’t value those core customer service basics, they’re understaffed, or they’re disorganized.
I specifically avoid businesses that do not provide a phone number to call them, email is ok but for some things a call is absolutely really necessary. This is one of those times, if you cannot call them now – you won’t be able to later if there is a problem.
- Communication is KING
Once you have started a relationship, keep your communication door wide open. This could mean all the difference when your supplier decides to discontinue a certain product or worse experiences procurement issues. Finding out you cannot fulfill an order for your own customers is never good for business. Always keep the lines of communication open and you can avoid most obstacles with lots of notice.
- Become “Friends”
Social media is a great way to stay informed. Suppliers routinely use this platform to provide specials, deals and one-time offers. Follow your suppliers and stay on top of what they post, you could easily find yourself in an advantageous position just for being a “friend”. This also provides another method of communication, definitely a plus.
- One is none and TWO is one…
It’s never wise to have all of one product come from one supplier. A supplier can close down, suffer health issues, fail to procure product on time, or run into shipping difficulties. Keep yourself covered and try to spread yourself out among several, this way you should always have a source if needed. Suppliers know you get products elsewhere so there is no need to hide this fact, if they ask tell them and you might find yourself receiving better customer service since they know you have options.
- Nobody’s perfect
Everybody wants the best deal, experience etc. Applying perfect expectations to any supplier is ultimately going to provide you with disappoint. Remember this works both ways, all relationships require both sides to put in work. You can hold suppliers accountable while still be reasonable. You might be surprised how well your understanding and patience is received.