Developing Vendor Relationships

Developing Vendor Relationships

How can I find good vendors is a popular question from new designers. Finding vendors takes time. It’ll take trial and error and research on your part. There is no quick fix. You can read more about finding quality vendors in this article.

So after you’ve found vendors, you need to develop good relationships with them for maximum benefit in your business. (I’m using a blanket term “vendors” for tradespeople, workrooms, suppliers, manufacturers, showrooms, etc.) These people are extensions of your business and will help you run your business smoother and more efficiently if you consider them part of your extended team.

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pros and cons to using your own vendors A regular issue that clients & designers encounter when delving into the design process is: who is going to do the work?  Who is going to make the curtains?  What workroom is going to do the upholstery?  Wallpaper? Tile installation?  You get the point.  Along every step of the way designers rely on other professionals to execute the design plan and get the project done.

But you may know someone who does the type of work you are looking for.  You see this as beneficial because that connection will probably give you a break on cost and you want to support that person.  This is a design tar pit, it seems very inviting on the surface, but once you step in it is almost impossible to get out of.  Designers work hard to build their network of vendors to execute the best possible work.  The designers have experience working with their vendors and know what they are capable of.  For example, I know who is fast, but maybe not as detailed.

I know who is less expensive and could install a simpler pattern of wallpaper or if I should look to the more exact (but expensive) paper hanger for the $1000/roll paper - that I do not want to mess up.  I know what vendors I work well with and are familiar with my design aesthetic and are familiar with the style windowcoverings I like.  I can speak to the quality of the end result with my trusted vendors.

Using someone new opens up a bag of worms because you are starting fresh with a vendor.  Each minute specification that your regular vendor already knows from years of working with you must be taught to the new vendor, creating more work and also more room for error.  A designer working with a new vendor or showroom can't guarantee how the finished product will look because they have not experienced the quality.

I've had this happen to me personally, working with a new windowcovering workroom.  I spent hours creating exact specifications as to what kind of curtains I wanted, break, pleat, fullness, hardware and even more time on the phone making sure they adhered to my specifications only to have them not turn out exactly as I'd hoped.

So what does this mean for the client?  It is usually best to let the designer work with the professionals that they have built relationships with.  If something goes wrong these relationships will help resolve any problems that arise quickly and with minimum discomfort to you.  Hiring a designer is about project management so sit back and let the designer do their job.  This can save you money and headaches by using trusted professionals and not worrying about the end result.

You should trust the designer you work with and trust them to make the right decisions about vendors.

What are your thoughts?  What do you wish you would have known before working with a vendor?