How Often Do You Talk with Your Suppliers and Partners?
Sitting down for a conversation is healthy in just about any situation. Dealing with a disagreement or a problem? Talk it out. Concerned about something? Express your fears. Even if it’s just telling someone you appreciate and value them, a simple conversation can go a long way. This is especially true for manufacturers when it comes to communication with suppliers and partners. Keeping an open line of communication is a great way to strengthen partnerships, stay informed, and unlock opportunities.
How often should you be talking to your suppliers? What should you chat about? It’s different for everyone, but here are a few tips any manufacturer can implement for positive results.
- Maintain points of contact. Be sure you’re not speaking with someone different every time you call or send an email. Maintaining the same contacts allows you to build stronger, better working relationships with specific people who can help you.
- Check in regularly. As with any business relationship, it’s important to routinely check in with your suppliers and partners. Even if you don’t have any present issues or concerns, keep in regular contact. During these check-ins, ask your suppliers and partners questions, and give them a heads-up about any future needs you may have.
- Keep a positive tone. You don’t want suppliers and partners dreading an incoming email or phone call from you. Maintaining a positive tone helps ensure a relaxed conversation. If there’s a positive, respectful tone to your interactions, suppliers will be more willing to help and answer questions.
- Call, email, text, or Zoom. These days, there are many ways to stay in touch with business associates. For questions and check-ins, a simple phone call, text, or email could suffice. It’s also a good idea to schedule regular Zoom meetings, but however you communicate, make sure you’re maintaining contact in a seamless, comfortable way to set a positive tone.
- Ask good questions. Don’t spend too much time making small talk. The adage, “Time is money,” remains true for many in the manufacturing industry. Ensure all communication serves a purpose by asking appropriate questions about delivery timelines, new products, supply constraints, and other relevant issues.
- Be transparent and honest. Don’t leave partners and suppliers guessing about your wants and needs. Transparency and honesty will save everyone time and ensure you’re all on the same page. Honest communication encourages everyone to cooperate in finding efficient solutions to any problems.
- Don’t talk exclusively about problems. Talk about the things your partners and suppliers are doing right. Express your appreciation for their hard work and willingness to address your issues. Showing respect for the hard work your suppliers and partners do for you strengthens your business relationships.
Good relationships with your suppliers, vendors, and partners unlocks a world of benefits. You’ll be in the know regarding important supply chain factors increasing your ability to communicate openly to solve problems or pivot to avoid approaching challenges. Above all, you’ll be able to count on your suppliers and partners to be on your side, rather than seeing them as the other side of an impersonal transaction. There’s nothing better for business than synergy!