Currently there is a lot of business advice around establishing genuine relationships with your customers.
Really this is a no-brainer as customers are the very life blood of your company. If you have no customers, you have no business.
If this advice is so sensible, why not take it a step further and look to proactively form meaningful relationships with your suppliers? As you are their customer, they have an incentive to join with you in this process.
Just as we all believe that we can offer more to our customers than just competing on price, so our suppliers have much they can offer us.
Good relationships can lead to:
• Sharing of innovation
• Advice on the best use of their products or services
• Improved reliability of supply (ie if there is a shortage/delay, they will first look after those they have good relationships with)
• Leads and referrals
• Early information on changes in markets, products, regulation etc
What can make a good relationship?
• Open and transparent: Sharing strategic plans, market information, new initiatives and the needs of the end customer.
• Innovative: Sharing ideas, new processes or new directions.
• Trust: Good communication and openness can lead to mutual trust. Act in ways that show your suppliers than you can be trusted, and in turn, be prepared to trust them.
Collaboration: Fundamentally, it is all about working together for the benefit of all parties.
• Behavioural maturity: I simply define this as professional, warm and honest