Your vendor does more than just take a PO and ship your order. Vendors have a hand in each step of the procurement process, and a strong partnership will positively affect the rest of your business. The best purchasing agent-vendor relationships will benefit your bottom line as well as your customers’ satisfaction. So it’s important to be strategic about finding the vendors you partner with.
Who should be on your vendor selection dream team? You want a vendor partner who can deliver at each step of the procurement process.
THE PURCHASING AGENT AND VENDOR PARTNERSHIP
Depending on your capacity and need, you might be relying on your the vendor’s CAD department to draft custom designs.
If the vendor’s quotes fit within the scope of the project, great. If not, you’ll be doing a little back-and-forth. Negotiation is one area where a strong vendor relationship really pays off.
The purchase order calls out the parts that will be created and shipped to you. Having a strong vendor partnership ensures you aren’t surprised by pricing, supply chain, or quality issues.
Understand how your vendors can help make inventory control, disposal of inadequate products, and disposal of product packaging easier for you.
5 CONSIDERATIONS BESIDES PRICE FOR SELECTING A VENDOR PARTNERSHIP
There are many nuances and subtleties when it comes to vendor relations. Some vendor relationships grow stronger and better over time, and some slowly diminish over time. Since the entire procurement process is heavily intertwined with vendors, each interaction is an opportunity to learn more about how your vendors operate.
Price is only one of many factors that affect the quality of your purchasing agent and vendor partnership. Keep these things in mind when selecting your next vendor.
The effort you and your vendors put into communication will come back tenfold. Nothing can derail a project faster than a few surprises on the back end. You want a vendor partnership where they will let you know right away if they run into any type of issue. If left undiscussed, a habit of silently putting out fires without your knowledge will only grow.
You may have worked with vendors whose dedication to communication slowly fades over time. If they initially listened to your needs, responded instantly to your calls and emails, and it seemed like they really knew where you came from, call out any slippage immediately. Naming the elephant in the room will serve you in the long run by eliminating many of the possible unknowns throughout the procurement process.
While you might not always see eye-to-eye with your vendor, you should be able to openly and honestly navigate those moments without causing permanent damage to your relationship.
Playing the blame game isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s unproductive. And at the end of the day, you still need each other. It’s much easier to talk honestly with your vendor about your short-term and long-term business requirements.
Does the vendor show an interest in understanding your business and helping you to become more successful? Will they provide expertise, suggestions, and pricing options to help you do more? Seek a vendor relationship that’s characterized by common goals and a shared understanding of what a great partnership looks like.
A great vendor partnership should come with great service. Look at their track record for fill rates, late orders, responsiveness on resolving issues, and time to import invoices. Each of these items affects the quality of your partnership with your vendor—and they impact your own expenses and your customers’ satisfaction.
The best partnerships are built on quality products. When you’ve got a vendor that consistently supplies high-quality products, your customers will consistently associate that level of quality with you. Track their performance on packing the product adequately, labeling it correctly, and including the right materials. When you’re evaluating quality, strike a balance between price and value as well.
When you can count on your vendor, your customers can count on you. Unforeseeable circumstances are bound to occur eventually, but the vendor should be quick to communicate the issue and quick to resolve it in a way that builds trust. Reliable vendors will also assure you that they’ve taken preventive action for the future.
YOUR VENDOR DREAM TEAM
Your vendors impact more than timely product delivery. The best vendors are partners who invest into your business. Be sure to partner with vendors who care as much about the relationship as you do. You’ll know them by their commitment to communication, trust, alignment, service, quality, and reliability.
Discover more helpful tips and best practices for navigating vendor relationships—download our comprehensive guide for purchasing agents.