Here is something most business owners understand to some extent: a solid relationship with a supplier is invaluable, especially in times when many businesses are working near or at capacity. You need your supplier just as much as your suppliers need you.
A little non-secret in the business world is that suppliers turn down business all the time. It might be evident in not receiving return phone calls or emails. Some businesses have better tactics and try to refer the clients they don’t want to deal with other suppliers. Others just claim “too busy” when new projects come in from dispreferred customers. I know one local business that has stopped answering the business phone line altogether.
At Kona Impact we usually do not turn down business from new clients, even if we believe we will make very little from their account. We know businesses grow, and we find helping people at that stage of their company very gratifying.
We have over the years done our best to transition some of our customers to other suppliers, or, to be frank, anywhere but us.
How can you develop a win-win relationship with a supplier like Kona Impact?
A big part of the answer is in the question: “develop a win-win relationship.” Start with the belief that a supplier must benefit from the relationship, which includes making a reasonable profit, working with clients with a reasonably agreeable personality, getting paid on time and all the other markers of a good client.
Here are some the things you should never do as a customer:
- Order something for which you don’t have the money to pay
- Order anything you do not plan to pick up when completed
- Bad-mouth a previous supplier. If you do it to them, you’ll do it to us. Red flag.
- Start a project you don’t need to be finished for a long time. If that’s your intent, be sure to pay a hefty deposit.
- Use the old, “give me a good price on this, and we’ll give you more business in the future” ploy. Doesn’t work for us; if you won’t let us make money now, you never will.
- Change the scope of the project without expecting a new, often higher, cost
Here are some things you should do as a customer:
- Communicate clearly what you have in mind. If you don’t know, or can’t explain, there is no way we can figure out what you want
- Ask us for a price quote right away. We’ll have some questions, for sure, but don’t use our time to fish for ideas if we’re unlikely to do business. We’ve been doing this for over 12 years, so we have a good idea what projects will cost and will gladly share that with you.
- Provide comprehensive feedback for each draft. Take some time and give us all your feedback at once. Trickle-in feedback is very detrimental to achieving a good result. If you have five sisters, six aunties, four uncles and business partner who are giving you feedback, good luck, but when it comes to communicating with us, speak with one voice and only after you gathered all the information you think you need.
- If you’re going to “disappear” for any extended period of time, let us know and offer to call the project done and settle any remaining amounts for the project. We get it that life and business goals change; just have the courtesy to communicate
Every business transaction can help to build a productive relationship or create reasons for the supplier or buyer to start looking for a new partner. It’s a two-way street, and in the best of all possible worlds, results in a lasting, productive win-win relationship for all.