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.
They can save you time and money.
Vendor relationships are important.
So what can you do to develop and maintain vendor relationships?
Tips for Vendor Relationships
Realize that creating a relationship with a vendor is like any relationship in your life. Good, enduring ones take time. They are an investment.
These are the people that can have your back when you’re in a pickle. You want them to like you.
Relationships are based on reciprocity, you need to have give and take on both sides of the street.
You want to treat people with respect. #goldenrule
Check in regularly, say hello, ask if they have new products, wish them happy birthday, or happy holidays, ask what they’re seeing in the industry and other designers.
Pay your invoices on time. Don’t let your accounts fall behind.
Say thank you. Be appreciative of their help and assistance.
If you have problems with product or concern address them immediately and work on a solution together.
Don’t make every interaction a fire. Rush orders, on the spot quotes, problems, immediate delivery updates, these are not going to leave a favorable view of your business with the vendor.
Ultimately, you want to treat your vendors as you’d like to be treated by your clients.
Wondering what specializing has to do with creating vendor relationships? When you specialize you have fewer vendors that you have to use. Fewer vendors means you’ll be not be spread as thin and you can create more meaningful relationships. You can devote more energy to 20 vendors than you can to 200.
If you don’t specialize you could require vendors in many different specialties themselves and varying styles and price points.
When you are a repeat customer, you are developing a relationship, showing your loyalty, and buying more from one vendor. Repeat customers get better service and can get better terms as well.
This isn’t as possible when you don’t specialize and support the same vendors frequently.
Vendors Behaving Badly
Like many issues arising in a project, most of them can be avoided by setting up expectations. There are things you can do at the beginning of a relationship to make sure that you’re on the same page as your vendors. If not, you could have very different thoughts on how the project will go.
Check back next week for some tips on how to effectively manage vendors pre-project.