Build a Good Relationship With Suppliers
Your approach to suppliers needs to be part of your strategic plan since almost every company, whether product- or service-oriented, is dependent on suppliers. Many business owners seem to get this supplier issue backwards. They think that because they write the order, they're in the dominant position and can exploit it with unreasonable demands, including personal perks.
Let's get this right--you need good and reliable suppliers. When you find them, treat them like gold. Work as hard on building a good supplier relationship as you do building a relationship with your customers.
And be loyal to your good suppliers. They are essential to your business's good health and growth. They are a nuanced bootstrapping strategy.
Let's briefly look at all the ways suppliers can impact your company.
Quality:Supplier components can positively or negatively affect the quality of your product. Higher quality increases customer satisfaction and decreases returns, which adds cash to your bottom line.
Timeliness: Their timely deliveries are crucial to how customers view your reliability. A quick turnaround can become the key to minimizing your inventory, which in turn translates to less risk of inventory obsolescence and lower cash needs.
Competitiveness: They can give you the one-up on your competition based on their pricing, quality, reliability, technological breakthroughs and knowledge of industry trends.
Innovation: Suppliers can make major contributions to your new product development. Remember, they live their product more than you do; they're working to be on the cutting edge of innovation for their product. The good ones will understand your company, its industry and needs, and can help you tweak your new idea.
Finance: If you've proven to be a considerate, loyal and paying customer, you may be able to tap into your suppliers for additional financing once you hit growth mode--or if you run into a cash crunch. That financing may take the form of postponed debt, extended terms on new purchases, a loan, or an investment in your company.