Regardless of which industry your company operates in, partnerships are an integral part of any business plan. They offer opportunities for your business to offer new products and services and reach new customers, helping you grow and respond to changes in the marketplace. For businesses focused on growth, fostering strong long-term partnerships with key suppliers can be the difference between success and failure. Building relationships with your suppliers can help lay the foundation to catapult your business into the “hockey stick” of growth. Knowing how to build those relationships isn’t always easy. Here are some ways you can strengthen your supplier relationships and enhance your growth trajectory this year.
1. Be Transparent
Partnerships are inherently meant to be mutually beneficial. To get the most value out of partnerships with your suppliers, be transparent regarding your business model, strategies for growth, and goals for the future. If you aren’t transparent with your suppliers upfront, changing your tune down the road will only harm your credibility and sow seeds of distrust in your suppliers. Being transparent with your suppliers is a crucial first step in forming a mutually beneficial partnership that will last well into the future.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Meet in Person
Over the past year, hosting meetings over the phone or via Zoom has become the new standard. However, with COVID-19 vaccines now in public distribution and communities beginning to return to a sense of normalcy, in-person meetings will start to make a comeback. Facetime goes a long way when it comes to building trust and reliability in your partnerships, especially early on. Meeting in person can be a valuable strategy to foster strong long-term relationships with your supplier-partners. Even a socially distant coffee in a covid safe environment can go a long way with nurturing that relationship.
Just as being transparent is vital to laying the foundation for success, so too is involving key partners in crucial business decisions. Strong partnerships with suppliers can deliver benefits such as better payment terms, greater purchasing power, and access to a consistent supply of goods at lower costs. But, your supplier can also offer additional insights and information about your industry. Include key suppliers, not in every decision, but share with them important steps, alternatives, obstacles, or opportunities your business has. This transparency will help you continue to build trust throughout your supply chain.
4. Listen and Collaborate
A wise leader once said, “I do not know what I do not know.” This adage holds true in virtually all aspects of life, but particularly in regard to your business strategy. As you share key insights and obstacles with your suppliers, you will open yourself up to shared information and recommendations from their team. Those same suppliers may have access to key information you don’t. As a valuable partner who is willing to share information and listen to feedback and new information, you’ll show your capacity for collaboration and access new information that can help your business grow.
At the end of the day, the only person who should be accountable for seeing your business’s vision become a reality is you. Sometimes, this means having to make the difficult call of turning down a potential supplier or partner if their strategy, values, or goals don’t align with those of your business. In the long run, these hard decisions will reap real rewards, as you strengthen your relationships with suppliers that align with your mission, vision, and values.
Avi Levine, Vice President at Star Funding, brings a strong background in manufacturing and consumer products to his real-world approach to Purchase Order Financing. With a unique view of business financing, Levine is helping startups, entrepreneurs, and small business owners find innovative ways to grow. With hands-on experience in wholesale distribution, Levine understands how businesses operate from the inside, out.