Many people underestimate the benefits of being a good customer. They think that the power is totally in their hands and suppliers have no choice but to provide their product or service. Truth is, ensuring that you are a good customer to your suppliers should be fundamental part of your company’s strategic plan.
Improving your relationships with suppliers has plenty of advantages, as discussed in one of our previous articles. But how do you actually improve yourself as a customer? How can you get in your suppliers’ good books?
Here are 5 pieces of advice to help you to do just that:
1. BE CLEAR
When establishing a relationship with a new supplier, clarify all details regarding pricing and payment terms before ever placing an order. It’s important to make sure you deal with any differences in your procedures. For example, your company prefer to do full payments on delivery but they prefer to receive a deposit amount beforehand. Reaching an agreement negotiated by both sides helps to prevent future disagreements coming up.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate for the best deals. If you’ll be frequently buying in bulk, it may be worth exploring discounts for these purchases.
2. BE PROMPT
Nobody likes to receive late payments. You hate it when your customers do it to you, so you shouldn’t be doing it your suppliers.
Delayed payments can disrupt the smooth running of a business, which will make the supplier unhappy. If they become dissatisfied enough with you, a supplier is well within their rights to stop providing their product or service to you. The last thing you want to do is to build a bad reputation for yourself.
There may be an odd instance where you find that you have no choice but to delay payment, but in these scenarios, you need to apply our next piece of advice…
3. BE TRANSPARENT
As far as possible, be honest with your suppliers. The more notice you give them about any errors or late payments, the more chance they have of preparing themselves. Yes, they may be unhappy about it, but they’ll definitely appreciate having some warning rather than finding out at the last minute.
The more you show transparency throughout your relationship, the more trustworthy a customer you will become to them. Handling any issues with honesty shows maturity and allows for collaboration between you and your suppliers in order to resolve any challenges you face.
4. BE PRESENT
Nowadays most interactions take place over the phone or by emails. If you want to be a good customer, it’s worth taking the time to actually meet face-to-face with your contact within your suppliers’ company. If you don’t have a key contact, this is your opportunity to establish one.
Use this meeting to discuss your needs and expectations as a customer so that your supplier has a clearer idea of what you expect and how your processes work. Also, and more importantly, make sure you discuss the same topics in relation to your supplier. Find out more about them and their needs. You’ll impress your suppliers with your proactive approach and build rapport between you both.
5. BE CONSIDERATE
Wherever possible, aim to give adequate lead times to your suppliers. A guaranteed way to become ‘the annoying customer’ is to repeatedly give orders at short notice. You have to consider each suppliers’ own production process and delivery times and factor these into your orders.
By analysing your own company’s previous trends and performance, you can share a projection of your future needs and share these with your suppliers. Naturally, you would then have to make sure you notify them if there are any significant changes to the estimation.
By being a better customer, you’ll improve your relationship with your suppliers and this will have a knock-on positive effect on the success of your own company.
Did you find this advice useful? Let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.