Most of us take our vendors for granted. We choose them based on some combination of price, quality and service. If one part of that equation falters, then we may look for a replacement, or we may evaluate the relationship for its overall value.
But, if utilized correctly, at least some of your vendors can mean so much more to the success of your business - they can actually be an effective part of your marketing team.
Vendors are the experts on the products and/or services they sell. As such, they can help you resell their wares more effectively by providing you with case histories, or by educating you about the more subtle benefits of their products/services so you get the most impact from them, or even showing you how best to showcase their products if you're reselling them. A good vendor can help you get the most use out of a product you purchase from them.
Having a good relationship with a vendor can be the difference between your making or losing a sale. Need something faster than usual? Your vendor "buddy" might be able to expedite an order. Need something not listed in a catalog? Your vendor’s rep might know how to find one – whether in their inventory or someone else’s. Maybe that vendor can help you create marketing materials, especially if those materials showcase their offerings.
In the promotional products industry side of Lev Promotions, my vendors (we call them suppliers) are not supposed to sell to the general public. They are supposed to sell only through distributors (like Lev Promotions). Every so often, an end-user (that’s the person who wants the product for distribution) contacts the vendor directly. Since most products are available through multiple vendors, that particular vendor wants to get that business when a distributor places the order. To that end, most reputable vendors will refer a phone call or e-mail request that they won’t fulfill directly to one of their preferred distributors. How do you get to be one of those "chosen ones"? Be nice to your vendor. Send thank you notes when they’ve helped you out, or just made running your business a bit easier. If they’ve gone above and beyond, send a thank you gift (candy or flowers are fine).
Treat them with respect, even if there’s a problem. Be loyal to them, work out issues with them in a reasonable manner and they will reciprocate with a little extra TLC when you need it most!