2019 is coming: Top tips for improving your supplier relationships in the New Year

Posted on by Jo Shaw

Estimated read time: 4 mins

Christmas is traditionally a time when suppliers send cards, hampers, wine and other treats to thank you for a job well done and ensure your custom for another year. A festive gift is the icing on the cake of any successful business partnership – but, like any relationship, you have to work at it. By showing you value your suppliers’ expertise, and making it easy for them to deliver, there’s every chance they’ll go the extra mile for you.

Be top of their Christmas list

While you’re unlikely to have a great deal of contact with your telecoms provider, you may speak to your business accountant or marketing agency several times a week. When you work closely with other professionals, it’s worth referring to them as ‘partners’ or ‘consultants’ because it changes your mindset in a way that makes them feel part of your team.

Whatever the level of involvement with a business, always get to know your account manager, or point-of-contact, and make sure they fully understand your goals and challenges. There will be times when you need to share confidential company information, or rely on them to complete a project within a tight deadline, so they should become trusted partners who want to share in your successes.

Invite your suppliers to any events you host, and don’t be afraid to recommend their services to your contacts in the industry – many will be extremely thankful for the new business.

Add a little sparkle to your partnerships

When you’re based in another office, how do you make sure your suppliers know what is expected of them? It’s easy to fire off an email and, while an electronic paper trail is always useful, never underestimate the importance of regular calls and meetings, even if it’s just a quick catch up over coffee.

If you’re friendly, approachable and receptive, suppliers are more likely to pick up the phone and share a new idea, rather than just offering the bare minimum. Similarly, if something goes wrong, as it does from time to time, they’ll be more inclined to have an open and frank discussion, so you can work together to find a solution.

Keep an eye on their finances – and yours

No matter how loyal your suppliers are, they don’t always tell you if they’re experiencing financial difficulties. A supplier who cannot deliver, due to cash flow problems or even because they’re facing administration, poses a risk to your business and could negatively impact cash flow and result in lost customers.

Experian Business Express provides a company credit check tool, which allows you to view and monitor the financial health of your suppliers. This means you’re better able to anticipate any potential problems and decide whether you want to continue to work with them.

You can also find out how others, including suppliers, see your business by checking your company credit score with Experian’s My Business Profile. By continually working to keep it as high as possible, suppliers will be confident you can pay on time and so might not insist on advance payment or short invoice payment terms.

Star suppliers

Supplier relationships aren’t static and even those who consistently perform well, can still develop their product or service further. By providing constructive feedback, or inviting them to immersion days at your company, they’re able to build their expertise and ultimately, deliver better results.

To find out more about how Experian could help you improve your supplier relations next year click here.

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