So far, in our Evaluating Vendors series, we have explored the roles of Quality, Customer Service, Cost Competitiveness and Industry Expertise. Now we will take a look at what a vendor’s healthy investment in a business relationship looks like.
As previously mentioned, the best partnerships are based upon the understanding that you are both in it for the long haul. This involves a commitment from your vendor to understand your business and act on their newfound knowledge. Your openness and willingness to engage in this exchange is very important, as well.
At the onset of any vendor relationship, there should be a solid effort to “on board” new clients. This means your vendor should initiate a process to get your team acquainted with their offerings and capabilities. You may need your vendor to hit the ground running, but at the very least, there should be a meeting of minds to ensure your vendor has a good idea of how you need the ongoing work flow process between your company and theirs organized. Ideally, all key people are able to meet in person, but this can also be accomplished with a web conference and a few essential questions addressed in order to get standard procedures up and running.
STAYING THE COURSE
Regularly scheduled project review meetings will keep things running smoothly and a hosted tour of the vendor facilities with a Q&A session for your team will lead to mutual understanding and ongoing adjustments. As your needs evolve, your vendor should be willing to make procedural adjustments to meet your needs, if necessary. And it’s not unusual for a vendor to find himself identifying a need for new equipment or new personnel as you grow your businesses together.
Of course, in any great relationship, a benefit to the other party should be part of the deal. Even if it’s just offering your support! Social networking provides a great opportunity for reciprocal acknowledgment. Follow your vendor’s activity on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and encourage them to follow yours. After all, social networking is all about the exchange of ideas for mutual benefit and it’s a great way to show your presence and support for your business partners. Vouch for a great vendor with testimonials or recommendations and you will have done your part to foster loyalty in a huge way.
We hope you have found this series in Evaluating Vendors helpful. At BrandPOP, we like to think of ourselves as both eager students and a great resource in the industry. Feel free to call on us anytime for advice or recommendations on how we can take your in-store marketing efforts to the next level of POP greatness!