10 Simple Ways to Increase Your Importance to Key Vendors
• Develop relationships with upper management. In the end, everything revolves around relationships. The closer you can be to the folks who run the show, the better off you are. These are the people who can make exceptions and bend the rules. They’ll do these things for you if you’re an important customer.
• Support the full line. There’s no better way to become important to your supplier than supporting the full line. You see, there’s a cost to servicing your account, regardless of how much you spend. The more broadly you buy, the more those costs can be spread over multiple products. Your account becomes more profitable to the factory and you become more important. Moreover, your own costs go down as well. Most suppliers offer generous rebate programs designed to encourage full line support. And you save on overhead, as you have fewer lines to learn, less orders to place, less invoices to pay.
• Have patience during their rough spots. Nobody’s perfect—not you, and not your vendors. You’ll build a deeper relationship with the factory when you realize that, from time to time, your key vendor might go through a rough patch. Maybe a new product is late or part of the line is a bit stale. Have patience. It will most certainly be rewarded over the long term. Avoid the urge to jump ship every time there’s a problem. In the end it will only cost you money and create a bad reputation for you in the vendor community.
• Communicate honestly when you’re going through a rough patch. Nobody likes to admit they’re having a problem, but if you want to be important, you must come clean. Most factories are willing to work with customers. The more important you are, the more they’ll work with you and for you. Communicate early and often, especially regarding cash flow issues. You’ll be surprised just how much better this can make things.