Whatever business you’re in – whether you make and sell products to your customers, or you deliver a service to your clients – you will have suppliers. There will be other companies on which your company relies, for the goods and services that you need and to be able to deliver your goods or services. How you manage your suppliers can impact whether or not you are able to deliver a first class service. When you can build first class relationships with your suppliers, you can concentrate on looking after your clients and exceeding their expectations.
Here are some tips on managing your suppliers:
- Supplier relationships go two ways. Most companies focus on what suppliers can do for them rather than on what they can do with the supplier to lower costs. A true partnership leverages the total production cost to both parties’ advantage.
- Accept accountability. You need to plan in order to request orders from suppliers with acceptable lead times and without multiple changes. If every order requires emergency handling, the relationship will never work.
- Incorporate appropriate service levels and measurements into your agreements. A relationship based on a handshake is far more likely to encounter problems than one in which expectations are clearly established and agreed upon.
- Share critical information as early as possible. Information is the grease that makes a supply chain work. Sharing information constantly, with appropriate security and confidentiality, is critical for successfully managing a supplier relationship.
- Plan for everyday exceptions. Sometimes emergencies will occur, especially in complex, multiparty supply chains. Agree ahead of time how emergencies will be handled and analyze why they occur so that the number of emergencies is minimized.
- Plan for major contingencies. Unavoidable events that stress the supply chain should be planned and practiced. Every supply relationship requires foresight and joint planning so that disruptive events can be managed smoothly.
- Expect and reward honesty. As in personal relationships, the best supplier relationships require honesty when exceptions to normal operations occur.
- Make relationship meetings meaningful. They should focus on critical issues, areas for supplier improvement and discussions on how your company can improve the relationship.
Take some time to evaluate the relationships you have with your suppliers, in order to see how to improve them. When your supplier relationships are smooth and problem free, you will have more time to focus on developing your client relationships and delivering a first class service.
If you need any help assessing your supplier – or client – relationships, get in touch to see how we can help. Call Jonathan Lane on 07503 891 331 or Pippa Hutchinson on 07941 819 169, or click here to email us.