The Vendor

Vendor Relationship

The Vendor – When to Hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em

Vendors are the backbone of every business. When you hire a vendor you are starting a relationship….a real, valuable relationship. They know you, your product(s) and they know when you need them.  They take care of you and that’s one less worry that you will have when running your business.

So, why do people often change vendors whenever the wind blows? Why do people take a long established, tried and true relationship and kick it to the curb? Did they short you or over-charge you? Did they forget to deliver the goods or bring the wrong product? The above reasons are the only reasons to replace a long standing vendor/business relationship.

Let’s say that you have been doing business with Mr. X and his company for many years and you have never had a problem with him. He is always aware of your needs and is consistent with his prices. He makes sure that you are well taken care of and cares about how your business is doing. In other words, he is the ideal vendor and deserves your loyalty and your ongoing business.

One day a friend of yours who also runs a similar business calls you and says that he found a new vendor; let’s call him Mr. Z. Your friend raves about how cheap Mr. Z is and how much money he is saving. He fires Mr. X and is anxiously awaits the results from the new vendor. You are curious about this miraculous new vendor so, in a week you call your friend to get the scoop on how things are going. “So, how is Mr. Z working out?” you ask. There is silence on the other end of the phone and then in a small, soft voice your friend asks, “Do you have any product to spare that I can use to tide me over for a few days?” Uh oh, this doesn’t sound good. “He never showed up?” you ask. “No, I’ve been waiting for over a week and I can’t reach him on the phone. I’m about to run out of product and it’s getting serious. I had to cancel two appointments because I didn’t have enough product to service the customers.” You dodged a bullet that time as you were as loyal to Mr. X, your regular vendor as he has always been to you and didn’t make the change. You have plenty of product .

In another case a fellow business person meets you in the park and tells you that she is changing vendors because she found a new company that is providing a far superior product for the same amount of money that you have been paying your regular vendor. Wow…such a deal. How could you go wrong? Well, when the bill arrived 30 days later and it was twice as high as the original guy she picked herself up off of the floor and got on that phone to complain. Excuses were made, heated words were exchanged and now she has no vendor at all.

Of course, these are only examples of what can and does happen when you are constantly searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and realizing that you will never get there! Sometimes if it sounds too good to be true…it is and you should have stuck with what and who you know.

Running a business is tough enough without worrying about whether or not your shelves will be stocked or your equipment will work on a regular basis or services will be proved on time and in a consistent manner. As I began this article I will end it….a vendor/business relationship should be based on good service, fair prices and loyalty. An established relationship between you and your vendors is as valuable as the customers you provide services for.

If you expect loyalty than give it back and think carefully before you do the vendor dance every few months. What you may be throwing away could cost you far more than the few pennies you might save by switching. Starting from scratch with someone who doesn’t know you, your salon or your needs can be costly.