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Top Tips to Improve Supplier Relationships

If you want to do business efficiently and grow, a good relationship with your suppliers is necessary. However, it can seem challenging to get on friendly terms with them. To help with that, we present the top tips to improve supplier relationships.

A supplier and a business owner after they have managed to improve supplier relationships

Work on communication

One of the most important ways to improve supplier relationships is to insist on frequent communication. It is impossible to sign a contract and then ignore each other. That would be a recipe for disaster since any problems, inconsistencies, desire to alter the current arrangements, etc., need to be appropriately communicated. If you genuinely seek to understand the world of logistics, it will quickly become apparent how crucial robust communication channels are. Step one of your relationship with any supplier should always be forming a solid communication network. You should also encourage them to contact you if anything comes up and assure them you will do the same.

A friendly meeting to handle a problem
It is effortless to handle problems if communication between you is good!!

Always follow the contractual obligations

Of course, if you want to have a proper working relationship with your supplier, you need to follow the terms of the contract you established. If either of the sides tries to wiggle out of their obligations or does a poor job of following through with them, then it is obvious the other side would be displeased. This would worsen the relationship between the two, if not outright put a stop to their cooperation. Late payments, not picking up your goods on time, and similar issues must not happen. At the very least, they need to happen infrequently and always be justified. If you manage to portray yourself as reliable, you can even work towards things such as transportation optimization with the help and support of your suppliers.

Form long-term contracts

To truly improve supplier relationships, you need to show your sincere desire to cooperate. And an excellent way to start is to sign a long-term contract. This indicates that you are satisfied with the supplier and willing to do business with them for the foreseeable future. And, as the experts from point out, having a reliable and steady influx of necessary supplies is invaluable. Of course, you should not rush into this step. Cooperate for some time first before deciding to make things semi-permanent. Once you’ve signed a long-term contract, you will likely find that your supplier will be a lot more amiable.

Try to be fair and objective

While trying to get the best deal is only natural, you can't push too hard on it. Even if you manage to sign a contract with terms advantageous to you at the cost of the supplier's benefits, it's not necessarily a good thing. It likely means constantly worrying about your supplies cutting ties with you once they find a better opportunity. So, keep your contract fair and objective even if you seem to take a few losses and give up on immediate benefits. This way, you can foster goodwill with your supplier and have a solid basis for future cooperation. This especially applies to small suppliers, who are often just starting out. Their conditions do not allow them to be picky with contracts at the start. But you can be sure they will eventually grow and get rid of the disadvantageous ones.

Be friendly

It is all fine and good to treat your relationship as just business transactions. But to improve supplier relationships, you need to put in a bit of effort. Organize meetings in person whenever possible. Try and organize business dinners or similar get-togethers. You can not just use the occasion to get closer to your suppliers, but you might also be able to make new business deals in a more relaxed atmosphere. You can even encourage them to invite guests of their own to such gatherings, which might allow you to meet new suppliers or business partners.

A business party
Lots of connections can be made at a business party.

Be transparent

If you suddenly need a change in your contract or something else comes up, it is essential to be upfront about it. It would be best if you did not try to avoid the subject only to spring it on your supplier at the last moment. They may not be able to account for such changes quickly, which could result in your contract dissolution. Even if you want to dissolve your contract entirely, do not just do it without prior notice. You should keep the reputation of your business in mind. Even if you no longer work with the particular supplier ever again, they have their other connections too. If you develop a reputation as someone ruthless and difficult to work with, it will damage your relationship with key suppliers. Not to mention potentially making cooperation with others impossible in the future.

A business meeting
If you want to discuss something major, it is wise to organize a meeting in person.

Work to fix problems immediately

If a problem comes up, on your side or with some of the goods provided by your supplier, there are two things you need to do. First, you need to put steps to take care of the problem in motion. Then, you need to contact them immediately and communicate what has happened. There are a ton of common logistics challenges that can make your life hell if both sides do not cooperate in dealing with them. Not to mention problems with goods, which can be damaged or spoiled. If you have a good relationship with your supplier, it might be easy to get replacements. However, if you silently blame them for all the errors, or if you never apologize or explain problems on your side, it is easy for resentment to form. In such cases, your supplier will certainly not cooperate with you towards fixing problems on your end.

Final Advice

With the top tips to improve supplier relationships, it should not be hard to take strides forward in your relationships with your suppliers. Remember always to be sincere, and keep an open mind if problems pop up.


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