These days business is more a collaboration than ever. Your relationship with suppliers and vendors is a crucial part of your business. Are you treating it as such? In a cut-throat business environment where speed is prized, knowing your needs and those of your suppliers and vendors is essential for a fruitful business relationship going forward. So how to gauge this? You need a system in place that shines a bright light on possible partners, and protects you from trouble later on. Bear in mind, this process isn’t solely for hard goods vendors. If you’re depending on a company for professional services or online services, the same system applies.

Start at the start – Evaluating a vendor or supplier

The best way to give your company the best shot possible at a great vendor/supplier relationship is to make sure you do your work in the beginning. Make the effort necessary to carefully vet a possible vendor or supplier, and search for possible red flags. A few of the questions you need answers to include:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Who are some of your customers?
  • How many employees?
  • How busy are you?
  • How focused on my company will you be?
  • Who will I be working with?
  • What happens when there’s an emergency?
  • How do I know you’ll come through when I need you?

Put accountability systems in place

This relationship needs to be a win-win for all concerned. For this reason, it’s essential you put accountability systems in place to ensure everyone is doing their part. Create solid performance parameters that clearly state what’s expected, and adhere to them. Examine these criteria on a regular basis, and don’t let under-performance issues go unnoticed. Always make sure you have a quality management system in place. Don’t trust your business to someone who lets the inmates run the asylum!

Don’t be scared to cut ties!

If it all goes south, and it does from time to time, don’t be unwilling to move on to another vendor or supplier. Let them have the opportunity to correct things with a formal notice, but if it doesn’t get corrected, move on. You can’t afford not to!