When working with suppliers, vendors and other business partners, it is important to have strong relationships built on trust and clear communication. Not only does this help ensure the quality of your end product or service, but it also protects your company’s reputation within the industry.

There are many ways you can improve your relationships with vendors and suppliers. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Be Honest About Your Needs
    It’s easy to think that you are being clear about what you need from a supplier or vendor, but expectations are often lost in translation if honesty and transparency aren’t top priorities. If you aren’t sure what you need, ask questions. You can also ask for samples of products or services before making a purchase. This will help you understand exactly what you need.
  2. Ask Questions
    When you ask questions, you show interest in what the vendor has to offer and what their experience is like working with you. You demonstrate that you care about the quality of their product or service as well as your own. By doing this, you build trust between yourself and the supplier. Asking questions also prevents misunderstandings and miscommunication.
  3. Pay Promptly
    Paying your invoices on or before the due date is another way to build strong relationships with suppliers. There is nothing more frustrating for a small business than waiting on a payment or needing to follow up several times to get an invoice settled. Paying promptly shows that you respect and care about your vendors’ time.
  4. Pay Attention to the Small Details
    Paying attention to the details shows both care and commitment in a supplier relationship. From honoring delivery and communication preferences to remembering a particular holiday your vendor celebrates to writing them a review—all of these gestures can demonstrate a professional respect that will yield many benefits.
  5. Make Referrals
    Referring your vendors to business partners or colleagues is a fantastic way to show your appreciation and to strengthen your relationship with suppliers. In addition, making referrals will likely encourage your vendors to return the favor and spread the word about your company within their networks.