No business is an island, and making connections is something that all great companies thrive on. Yet one important connection that many small businesses neglect when they’re first building up their operations is nurturing a great relationship with their suppliers. This is vital not just because it can garner perks such as discounts, favourable payment terms and goodwill gestures, but also because it can give you a unique competitive edge plus make your daily working life much smoother. Each supplier you use is unique, and so your approach will have to be tailored, but there are basics to creating strong working relationships with your suppliers that you can implement from day one. 

Brush Up On Cultural Differences 

In today’s global economy, it’s highly likely that some of your suppliers will be based overseas. When working with suppliers from other countries, it’s well worth gaining a basic understanding of cultural differences. This will make the relationship much smoother and easier to manage, and prevent any misunderstanding. Every country is different in it’s approach to doing business. For example, in China there is a big emphasis on ‘guanxi’, which is the process of building a personal relationship as a foundation for business deals. There might also be simple things like national holidays or business gift giving to be aware of. 

Respect Their Expertise 

You may understand implicitly what is right for your business and your customers, but knowing every detail about the supply chain is different. Respect the knowledge and experience that your supplier can bring to the table, and you’ll often learn a great deal. Suppliers have a broader view of the market, as well as insight into consumer trends and competitor behaviour. They are a wealth of detail that can support your business plans and expansion. Whether you’re working with a website design agency to develop your online offering or a specialist parts supplier like Metrology Parts, they can input their steer into what you do and help to shape your business for the better. 

Prioritise Clear Communication 

Communication is everything when it comes to managing supplier relationships. Treating your supplier like an extended part of your own company creates a valuable transparency. This means that any issues can be raised and resolved swiftly before they have the chance to develop into bigger problems. Give your suppliers detailed briefings and invite follow-up questions, while ensuring they know who to speak to for any information they need. It’s important to extend courtesy to suppliers as well, especially at the start of your working relationship. Simple actions such as ensuring all invoices are paid on time or emailed queries are answered promptly can go a long way towards maintaining a harmonious line of travel. Have tools in place that make it easy to collaborate where necessary, such as cloud storage for quickly sharing documents. The right tech will facilitate sharing ideas and working more closely together to deliver on projects. Look for ways to improve communications wherever you can and take feedback from your suppliers into account. 

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