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How to Work Better With Suppliers

Using suppliers is an essential part of business life, but one that tends to be taken for granted. As with any relationship, if you want to work better with suppliers, you need to bear a few ground rules in mind.

Firstly, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s a power game. You’re not in control, and nor is your supplier – you need each other. You might be placing an order, and yes, you could argue that you’re keeping your suppliers in business, but that doesn’t make you all-powerful. If your suppliers stop working with you, they could cripple your productivity, so if you want to work better with suppliers, it pays not to get over-pushy.

Your suppliers are a part of your business model. It doesn’t matter what goods or services they provide you with – they’re specialists in their own field, and with their help, you can keep doing what you do best. So make sure you understand each other. A great way to work better with suppliers is to maintain effective communication. Find out about their product line, and make sure they know what you want your business to achieve. You might have been relying on one of their products for years, when in actual fact they might offer something which could prove a lot more profitable to you!

Think about your relationship with your own customers. You’re a supplier to them; how do you like to be treated? What makes your experience of supplying to them a good one? You like to be treated with respect. You like any demands to be reasonable ones. Crucially, you like people to pay their bills on time.

To work better with suppliers, you need to apply this knowledge to your own experiences. Are you the kind of customer you’d want? If you feel that your suppliers aren’t being as accommodating as they should be, try to put yourself in their shoes, and think how you’d feel if the roles were reversed.

Of course, another important way to work better with suppliers is to make sure you’re not being a doormat. Be clear that you aren’t going to grovel to keep your suppliers happy, and don’t let the survival of your business depend on one supplier who could make or break you. You’re paying for a product – you have a right to be demanding (within reason), and to look for better options.

When all is said and done, the key to ensuring you work better with suppliers is remembering that if you treat someone well, you’ll get the best out of them. A simple truth, but one many businesses could benefit from acting on a little more…

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