Suppliers as customers

Recently I organized a meeting with one of my key suppliers to discuss the next steps in building the business. In all the points we discussed the one that bothered me the most – and still bothers me today – is how this company’s employees were being treated by my company. I heard several stories about how these employees were routinely denied access to systems and inventory data that they needed to do their jobs, and how in some cases the retail employees simply ignored them. And these were people who had come into the store to help manage the inventory and merchandising of product!

What is interesting about this is if my company’s employees had treated a customer or another employee in this manner, they would have been disciplined. But somehow it was OK to abuse a supplier. I guess the policies governing proper associate behavior apply only in certain cases. Not very professional, in my opinion. Respect for the individual indeed!

Your suppliers deserve the same treatment as your best customers. You can’t do business without them. Abusing them isn’t going to help you in the long run. And all the talk about respect for individuals goes right out the window if the policies are not applied consistently.

I have been managing suppliers for major retailers for nearly 20 years and consistently I have been impressed with their willingness to support my business, even when we ask them to do outrageous things. My experience tells me that most suppliers really want to be good partners. They depend on others to distribute and market their products. So why can’t companies collaborate so both sides win?

I believe too many companies still see suppliers as a cost center and not a partner who also wants to grow the business. This attitude will undermine the relationship every time. If you see your suppliers as competitors for your profits, you won’t collaborate.

Want to grow your business? Take some time and really get to know your suppliers. Let them educate you about their business. Let them show you how they can better support you and offer you insights into their industry.

Want a competitive advantage? Be the company that your suppliers want to support. Treat them well so that when issues come up there will be no question that they will go out of their way to support you. I can tell you from experience that treating your suppliers well, knowing what they can offer, and giving them the chance to shine in supporting your business will build the kind of loyalty that your competitors will envy.

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Comments

  • christinebaese  On March 20, 2012 at 09:31

    You are right on. When we court our suppliers as well as our customers, we have more opportunities for true collaboration.

    • fitz1  On March 20, 2012 at 11:43

      @Christine, obviously you get it. It amazes me how simple this is, and yet how hard it is to get companies to buy into it.

  • Agustin Szczepanek  On March 25, 2012 at 20:28

    Howdy: thank you for taking time of writing up this details. I continuously try and additionally my understanding of matters. Whether I concur or disagree, I like information and facts. I just remember the olden days when the only source of specifics was the library or even the newspaper. They each look so out of date. : )

  • Jonas Shah  On March 26, 2012 at 15:57

    Many thanks for creating your post Suppliers as customers My Supply Chain Notes . I never knew this info, i really help keep it handy today in order to research that down the road.

  • Tandra Carlos  On April 17, 2012 at 23:50

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?

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