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Building Better Relationships With Vendors

Building “Green” Relationships

Sustainability is all the rage. Ten years ago, the phrase “going green” had little if any currency, but today, businesses and citizens across the globe recognize that the old slash-and-burn paradigm of business growth is shifting. In order to survive in a globalized and virtual economy, small-business owners must conserve resources, and seek out sustainable solutions to persistent problems.

If you own a small business, then you know that your relationships with lenders, vendors, and suppliers are a critical resource. No business is an island, and without the support of your business partners, it is difficult if not impossible to generate revenue, and to fulfill your obligations to your clients.

In the old days, business relationships could weather miscommunications, misunderstandings, and long periods of silence. If a vendor didn’t sufficiently appreciate your business, then you could always break your contract, or dissolve the relationships and head off in search of another partner.

We know, however, that efficiency and resource conservation are crucial to the survival of emerging small businesses in today’s ultra-competitive market. To put it simply, you can’t afford to waste time letting healthy, productive relationships wither on the vine.

To build sustainable, “green” relationships with vendors, you only need to pay attention to basic niceties of business communications. Of course, going above and beyond can help you win friends and gain a favorable standing that might benefit your business over time. The following tips can help you keep your partnerships strong, even as you focus most of your attention on growth, marketing, and sales.

Tips on Maintaining Healthy Vendor Relationships

Put everything in writing. Whether you are establishing a new relationship or expanding an existing one, it is essential to put everything in writing, and follow up with frequent verbal and written communications. Never let a misunderstanding undermine your relationship.

Plan ahead. Respect your vendors’ time and resources. Pay on time, and try to avoid last-minute alterations to orders.

Never play the blame. Mistakes happen. When they do, don’t overreact or rush to judgment. State the problem without assigning blame, and try to move on as quickly as possible.

Be reasonable; be loyal. Expecting something for nothing, or requesting unreasonably low quotes will inevitably lead to discord. Respect the fact that your vendor is a business owner with financial constraints of his own.

Author:

Marshall Walker Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Michigan's Honors College with degrees in Writing and Philosophy. As a freelance writer and designer he has developed branding strategies and programming for J. Walter Thompson, Nike, the Kellogg Foundation, Spike TV, Sony Films, and General Motors. He is the co-founder and director of Poor Claudia, a 501(c)3 non-profit publishing enterprise based in Portland, Oregon.