Most companies, whether they specialize in a product or a service or both, are dependent on suppliers. The one thing that most business owners seem to get backwards though, is who is in the dominant position. When it comes to supplier relations, the person who is writing the order isn’t necessarily in charge. If you’re a would-be small business owner, the following information about how to treat with suppliers can help you to establish a mutually beneficial relationship from the start.

As Important as Customers?

Many companies get the wrong idea by thinking that they are doing a favor for suppliers by giving them business. In fact, it’s the other way around. Without reliable and trustworthy suppliers, a business could not function. That’s why your relationship with your suppliers is just as crucial as your relationship with customers, although it is rarely given as much attention. In both cases, loyalty and rewards are key. Staying loyal to your suppliers and rewarding them for staying with you can help you to build a positive relationship over the long term.

How Suppliers Affect Your Business

Suppliers directly affect how your customers see you in a variety of ways.

They are responsible for the quality of the product or service you are able to offer. In addition, suppliers are responsible for timely delivery of your product or service. Without a quick turnaround, your customers may find you unreliable. Good suppliers may also help you to increase your competitiveness in a neck-and-neck market. Better pricing, reliability, technology, or quality can change the game. In addition, suppliers may have knowledge about the market that you don’t know. They may be able to keep you abreast of industry trends, product development, and future leads. Finally, your suppliers may even be interested in partnering with you to invest in your growth.

Cardboard boxes on shipping pallets

Cardboard boxes on shipping pallets

Choosing the Right Supplier

Given how vital the role of your supplier is, it’s okay to be a little bit picky when choosing a supplier. However, it’s important to understand the difference between being making fair demands on your suppliers and making unfair demands on your suppliers. Communication is key. If you state your needs clearly, you aren’t being unfair. You have the right to hold your suppliers to the agreements you’ve made with them and to inform them that you expect them to offer you a competitive price. If you need to replace a supplier because the relationship is no longer suitable, give them a chance to change in order to keep up with your needs. If they refuse, drop them.

Relying on More Than One Supplier

Playing it smart means relying on more than one supplier so as to avoid emergency situations such as strikes or accidents. You don’t want their shut-down to affect you, too. Keeping a backup supplier or using multiple suppliers is a good business practice if you don’t want to be caught off guard. Be honest with your suppliers, state your reasons for collaborating with another supplier, and you shouldn’t have any trouble. Honesty is key.

Quick Summary

Your suppliers are crucial to the smooth functioning of your business. You should view the relationship you cultivate with suppliers in the same way you view your relationship with customers.