Vendor Management: After the Honeymoon is Over

According to R.G. Risch, “Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.” For many business professionals, these are words to live by. Every business action you take must be done with a semblance of respect, and you should require respect in return.

This is especially true when it comes to vendor relationships. However, in some cases, as time passes between a vendor and a business, this respect and the so-called “honeymoon phase” associated with it fades. So, how can you salvage these vendor relationships and restore them without damaging your partnership along the way?

To answer this, we must first analyze what the vendor management honeymoon phase is like, what to do when it ends, and why it is so important to stay with vendors long-term to begin with.

Why Staying With Vendors Long-Term is So Beneficial

In many ways, a business is built upon the vendors you choose to work with. If your company creates vendor relationships that are less than ideal, this could significantly damage your business over time.

The truth is that vendors provide your business with the materials needed to succeed and, without them, you may find yourself paying regular prices (rather than discounted prices) and running at a significant deficit because of it. Just as making a loyal customer relationship strategy is important for a business, making a loyal vendor relationship strategy is essential for business success and growth.

As you build your vendor relationship over time, you may find flexibility in the customer service, purchasing of products, price, and delivery times. For instance, many vendors may be kind enough to lower your prices over time or grant you access to different products as the relationship grows.

These (and many other tangible reasons) are why developing a strong vendor relationship is essential. However, keeping this relationship strong takes time, respect, and continual relationship growth. To understand how to do this, we must first know what the best phase of a vendor relationship feels like and what to look for as it starts to fade.

Related: 10 Ways to Strengthen Your Client Relationships

What is the Vendor Management Honeymoon Phase Like?

During this phase, commonly called the “honeymoon phase,” you may be extremely happy with your vendor (and vice versa), but as time goes by, you may see less and less preferential treatment. While this is certainly not the case with all vendors, it can happen from time to time.

When this does occur, it’s often because vendors rely on first impressions of their business to make long-term clients. This period of time is marked by speedy service, overperformance, and priority treatment, and it’s important to monitor all of these aspects with any vendor you do business with.

When it comes to speedy service, this could be shown through faster deliveries, an easier ordering process, or quicker turnaround times on tickets or questions.This is also where overperformance comes in; When you first choose a vendor, you may notice that they are very responsive and put your needs first. They may answer within a few seconds of you calling, take the order quickly, and deliver it just as quickly.

These benefits at the beginning of your vendor relationship can often create the idea that this type of service will be the standard going forward, which can lead to disappointment down the road if this level of service ever diminishes. The overperformance you considered to be the norm was simply part of the initial relationship, which may create a problem for your company and your needs.

Understandably, this can leave you feeling frustrated or negatively towards your vendor. If this is that case, then it may be time to consider taking steps to find a resolution to the issues with your vendor.

Related: Is It Time to Switch Your Paper Provider?

How to Salvage a Vendor Relationship

As these honeymoon phase indicators dwindle, you may be wondering what happened and how you can salvage the relationship and create a better vendor management process.

The best way to do so is to utilize particular tactics for vendor relationship management. For starters, analyze your current agreement and determine if they are meeting the contracted terms and if the contract is viable long-term. Can this vendor handle upwards growth in your business? Is something you previously agreed upon hindering your current relationship? If you find any problems, take some time to schedule a call with your vendor to discuss them and see how you can work to improve the situation.

Next, try to strengthen your communication and connection with your vendor. For instance, if it takes time for your vendor to get hold of you each month, this may be the cause for their frustration and overall distance. To fix this, try contacting them more often and also using effective networking practices to your benefit. Think of them as a potential client and use your charm to strengthen your relationship once again.

Lastly, one of the best ways to strengthen the relationship is honesty. If you feel that the relationship has suffered over time, try simply talking to them straightforward about it. In many cases, you may be surprised by the response. A lot of times, the vendor is feeling the same way and simply backing off out of respect for you. To fix this, simply discuss the situation and determine what it will take to get back on track for ongoing success.

Following these steps will help you to repair vendor relationships that have faded over time, allowing you to take full advantage power of long-term vendor partnerships. Take some time to evaluate your vendors and make a plan to implement these tactics to start improving your working relationships.