The best way to maintain an effective supplier relationship management strategy is to show your supplier that you are also a good customer. Just like you’re on top of supplier management, they are on top of vendor management to make sure they are getting the best return on their investment. Paying bills on time and giving as much lead time as possible in honest product projections proves that you are a great customer and a great partner to work alongside.
Looking at your overall business strategy, you may see that you are working with a lot of suppliers. Reducing this number can make it easier for your business because your team won’t be stretched tracking suppliers and shipments, allowing you to focus on the essentials. By reducing the number of suppliers you work with, you are enhancing the relationships you already have and planning for the future.
Of course, if a supplier is difficult to work with, then it is in your best interest to immediately cut ties and focus on better supplier relationships. You may discover this during your regular vendor management performance reviews or from your procurement team who have been dealing with the vendor directly. No matter what, you want to be sure that your supplier collaboration is mutually beneficial.
A difficult supplier could be unreliable or late with deliveries, have higher costs, have poor sourcing or supplier quality, and may be unwilling to communicate. These are all things you should consider when looking at your supplier strategy each month. Always do what's best for your business and maintain the relationships that work as a two-way street.
Like we talked about above, open communication is one of the most important strategies to use in maintaining effective supplier relationships. Communication is a basic—and supremely important—courtesy to follow with any relationship your business has.
With suppliers, you should feel open to inviting them to strategy meetings and on office tours. Making them feel like they are a part of the team will help you both do your jobs better. Sharing information allows suppliers to get ahead of the ball and have products ready before you really need them.
Just like everything else, communication is a two-way street. You should be able to visit your suppliers' offices and know the ins and outs of their business, too. If they are having any supply chain difficulties, they should be open about it and work with you on finding alternatives.
At the end of the day, being honest and upfront with your suppliers about your needs will help them perform better and will keep you both happy.