This may be a repeat topic, but it's worth saying again: Your vendors are your friends - or at least they should be. They are the ones who keep your supply chain moving, who may be able to help you out of a sticky situation and who provide the expert advice that keeps your business growing.
When you relegate your vendors to third-class citizens, it makes an impression on them – not a positive one. Yes, as a vendor of marketing products and strategy to my clients, I always understand that my clients' clients come first. Any vendor who puts their business above yours is not valuable to you. That being said, when you’re actively working with a vendor, even asking for assistance, and you're not willing or able to come through in a timely manner or at all (payment, return phone calls, meetings that are cancelled repeatedly, etc….) then your value in the eyes of that vendor has decreased.
I know that when I treat my vendors with respect, send them thank you notes for their assistance, recommend them to my colleagues and fulfill my obligations to them as promised in a timely manner, my business benefits from it. I have promotional product suppliers who specifically send me leads when a potential customer contacts them instead of a qualified distributor. I have suppliers who have given me their private phone numbers so I can contact them after hours or on weekends regarding a particularly sensitive job. They know I won’t abuse it, and they want to help me look good so that I stay in business so that I continue to send them business. It is a circle of business growth.
Next time you initiate contact with or seek assistance from one of your trusted vendors, respect the relationship. Do not put them on the back burner until you “have more time” or “have the money.” Don’t seek out those people until you are ready and serious about doing business with them. Respect their time because they need to build their business as much as you need to build yours.
If you respect your vendors and treat them as valuable assets to your business, you will find that they can actually help you grow your business more efficiently.