If you’re an entrepreneur looking to grow your business exponentially, one of the most important things you can do is improve your relationship with your suppliers. Since they are the ones who enable your day-to-day operations to run smoothly, it only makes sense that you invest in strengthening your connection to one another. The tricky part about this is catering to the different preferences of your suppliers. No one business is the same, regardless if they belong to the same industry. As such, you need to establish a clear, cohesive, and customized plan to improve your relationship with each one of them.
Fortunately, there are some guidelines you can follow to achieve this goal.
Take Note of Cultural Differences
With globalization redefining how businesses are operated today, it’s no longer unusual that you have suppliers from different parts of the world. Perhaps one of the most important things you can do is be aware of the cultural differences between you. You don’t have to be an expert in the matter. All you need is sufficient knowledge and awareness about their culture to avoid possibly awkward or offensive transactions.
While there is leeway in international business relations because of cultural differences, it makes a huge impact on your suppliers when they feel that you’re making an effort to respect their beliefs and practices. This may be exactly what you need to build a strong rapport and secure your partnership.
Never Underestimate Corporate Gifts
Giving gifts is a tested-and-proven method of leaving a good impression, even in the business world. This is another reason why you have to be aware of your cultural differences. If you’re planning to send gifts or tokens to a supplier in another country or continent, you want to be sure that it will be appreciated, not misunderstood.
Another great way to boost the value of your gift is to buy locally. If Phoenix is the location of your business, a gift shop in Arizona is your best bet. It sends the message that your company supports local businesses and that you are invested in sustainability. There’s also the matter of sending something sourced and crafted in your locality that will increase its appeal to your international suppliers.
Structure Your Communication
As with every relationship, communication is key to success. Assess the current state of your communication with your suppliers. Does tension happen due to late responses? Is there confusion about which channels to use? If you notice that your relationship has been strained lately due to mistakes in inventory, invoices, and other crucial matters, then you need to overhaul your entire strategy.
Coordinate with your suppliers about what tools and policies you can establish to make communication more efficient. This may involve looking for new tools to utilize and enforcing new habits that exude a higher sense of professionalism. You might be surprised at how improving your communication with your suppliers can do wonders how you do business together.
Meet In Person Whenever Possible
With the convenience that Zoom meetings bring, business owners tend to overlook the significance of in-person meetings in their corporate relationships. Granted, it’s more difficult now because of the pandemic, but there are already ways to minimize the risks of face-to-face interaction. Inviting them to your office, heading out for a lunch meeting, or any small gesture that allows you to see each other in person makes the relationship more authentic. It also allows you to be a little personal by asking how they’ve been coping with the pandemic and wishing their families well. When you know who’s behind the calls and emails, it’s easier to be proficient in your collaboration.
It’s normal to expect things from your suppliers, but it’s also easy to make those expectations unrealistic. Perhaps you want faster transactions, lower costs, and better deals. While all of those could be possible to achieve, it’s important to remember that this is a partnership. It’s unreasonable to expect such things if you are neither performing in the standards you demand nor helping them improve their service.
Take the initiative and start a conversation about how you can work better for their benefit, and the rest will follow. If you’re not getting what you want, strike a conversation that focuses on cooperation instead of blame.
Be Strategic, But Also Sincere
At the end of the day, you’re all running businesses that seek to profit and make a difference. Be strategic in your approach to building better relationships with your suppliers, but above all, be sincere. There’s nothing like sincerity to achieve trust and maintain it.