Building Strong Vendor Relationships
Undervaluing the importance of relationships in business is, perhaps, the most consistent major mistake companies make across all industries and fields. We are social creatures—and once you consider the ways close relationships can benefit individual people, it should become painfully apparent how strong relationships can similarly benefit businesses working together.
However, those benefits demand reciprocation to work; if you trust a fabricator or other firm that doesn’t value its customers in return, you gain nothing. Strong relationships can’t form through a one-sided effort. When assessing the potential for strong relationships and the benefits you might see, consider these points:
Businesses which consider client success their success
Perhaps the most important aspect of developing good relationships with vendors is the establishment of a mutual appreciation for the impact of one business upon the other. A fabricator like Swanton Welding wants its customers to succeed in their own business endeavors, as it views that success as critical to its own future. That means you see attention to detail, willingness to resolve mistakes, and reliable adaptation to improve future outcomes.
Preference for long-term arrangements over one-off jobs
Any partnership formed with a business which doesn’t value long-term relationships higher than equivalent amounts of one-off jobs should be viewed critically. Swanton Welding greatly prefers to work with repeat customers.
Long-term arrangements, above all else, eliminate waste: wasted time contracting out work, wasted time correcting mistakes, wasted time hashing out the specific details for the millionth time. Neither entity profits from this sort of waste; instead, you’re far more likely to see flawed work generated despite the greater investment of effort.
Satisfied Repeat Customers
If you truly wish to assess the potential for a strong vendor relationship with a given company, it’s important to see whether those companies already work with satisfied long-term customers. If instead the only references provided amount to an endless parade of one-and-done projects, you won’t really know how they treat partners without experiencing it first-hand—a less than ideal proposition.
Transparency and Thorough Investigation
You must place extreme value on transparency and the exchange of information when pursuing strong vendor relationships. Why? Because that interplay of information leads to profit for both sides. Opacity hides flaws instead of making them available for correction. A fabricator which doesn’t care to learn about your business cannot produce ideal results. Even the simplest jobs may have confounding factors or important details to optimize; working closely to figure out the best solution for problems which arise will greatly improve the final result for everyone.
Experience and Pride
It’s often easier to establish mutually beneficial relationships with a business that’s been around for a while; a new business may be more eager to build a network, but it may not yet appreciate the value of long-term relationships in producing mutual profitability. Similarly difficult to assess, and intimately tied to experience, is pride in the brand and product. Don’t work with companies which eagerly stamp their name to rubbish results; a company with no sense of shame isn’t worth your time.
The secret to building strong relationships between a fabricator and its customers amounts, ultimately, to simple recognition of the mutual benefits of such a relationship. Neither party suffers any loss by working closely with a trusted partner; any theoretical ‘benefits’ of operating without any sense of loyalty, goodwill, or responsibility simply cannot compare, if such benefits even exist. Work with your business partners as partners rather than adversaries to be overcome, and you can profit together.