Six Tips for Managing Your Suppliers

Managing all the moving parts of a business can feel like a juggling act. Having good relationships with the people you work with makes it all easier to manage. Because of all the back-and-forth and coordination, it’s particularly important to have a great working relationship with your supplier. Here’s how to get off — and stay — on the right foot.

Be efficient.

Suppliers also have to run a business, so make sure you respect their time. For any meeting, be organized and prepared to make your orders, accept deliveries, and take care of business in a timely manner. You want your suppliers to feel like their interactions with you are efficient — not a hassle or time suck.

Pay on time.

Holding outstanding balances invariably creates friction. If for any reason you can’t pay on time, communicate that as soon as possible. This rule also applies with other delays or hiccups — like if you won’t be able to receive an order at your usual time.

Be choosy.

Having too many suppliers can stretch your relationship with each pretty thin. Consider consolidating by choosing just a handful of more fruitful relationships and focusing your energies there. Spending adequate time with each partner will build trust and loyalty — the foundation of any successful relationship.

Be clear.

Don’t underestimate the power of clearly defined roles. Communicate clearly about what you want, what you expect of them, and what you’re willing to do for them. It may take a little bit of negotiation, but once your roles are set, it should make your continued work with them much smoother.

Find tools to help.

You can find a variety of online software to help you organize supplier information, dates, transactions, and other practical data. You can also use the free inventory management tool in Square Point of Sale to keep track of your stock so you know when you might need to re-up with your supplier. Automating elements of your supply chain will give you bandwidth to handle more complex issues as they come up.

Build your reputation.

Don’t underestimate the power of being polite and friendly — to everyone from the delivery driver to the supplier’s receptionist. Build your reputation as someone who’s a pleasure to work with.

Human relationships play a critical part in business. Everyone wants to enjoy their work — and if you make it easier for your suppliers to enjoy theirs, they’ll do the same for you.