Vendor Relations: The lifeline to your business
Guest Post by Small Biz Diamond Contributor Monica Jackson
In today’s economic and environmental culture our attention has been directed towards “sustainability”. A word not common in many households and businesses nearly 10 years ago—from following our carbon foot print, to recycling and going “Green”, the nature of our everyday lives have changed.
Sustainability is vitally important for businesses and entrepreneurs. We rely on new business and retaining existing business, however, are we cultivating these relationships that help grow and sustain our business? Most businesses today get caught in the hustle and bustle of pushing the next best thing and have forgotten about the fundamental premise of building and maintaining business relationships. This lack of nurturing, cultivation and appreciation has caused many once successful businesses to falter.
Nearly a decade ago people were still writing hand written ‘Thank You’ cards. Nearly a decade ago business owners made it a priority to remember and mark important information about their clients for follow-up and just a courtesy “Hello” note to let them know that their business is valued. All of that today has been replaced by technology and everyone is a number, text, email or tracking code.
What I find across the board about most successful businesses is that they have not forgotten about the fundamentals of building great – not just good, business/vendor relations. Although technology is great and very useful, it also perpetuates a disconnection between common human interaction and behavior. Technology has masked our ability to be face forward with clients and vendors. We send and receive insurmountable daily automated information, messaging, advertising etc. and we have learned to filter out the good and bad in a moment’s notice. We look for “buzz” words and compliance jargon to help us decipher what is a really good deal, or what if we should try out a new product or company.
Not so long ago, it was a great feeling to walk into your favorite restaurant and your favorite wait-staff knew you by name and knew your special order. It was great when the post man greeted you everyday with a smile and delivered your mail at the same time everyday like clockwork.
We have gotten away from the basics. No one has time to smile, chat, hold the door, or even make a simple phone call. When at the end of the day everyone wants to feel important in someone’s life. We want to feel appreciated for making that purchase. We want to feel validated for our degrees, education, cars we drive, homes we live in, and designer clothing that we wear yet we lack showing appreciation for the things that matter most – “Relationships”.
My message to any thriving entrepreneur and business owner is that we simply have to get back to the basics. As small business owners, we need to appreciate those that patronize our business and those that spread the word via referrals to other potential clientele. Word of mouth has always been the best form of advertising. Business either strive or die from word of mouth feedback from our clients and our vendors.
I get asked weekly by vendors - “How can I be on your preferred vendor list?” I simply reply – “By building a relationship.” I then explain to the vendor that their business is an extension of my business every time someone goes to my website or sees our partnerships listed somewhere. My business relies heavily on the relationships that we have with our vendors and business partners. It is more than just being on a list, it is an honorable endorsement of our relationship and trust of one another’s business and capability to provide unparallel customer service to our clients.
I have heard many times the question asked to a man how he chooses a wife and more times than none does the man reply and say “I wanted to marry my best friend”. Let’s get back to being friends and not just associates. Let’s court each other and learn about each other’s business and we can help one another to succeed. Let’s not be so critical but be concerning.
No day is promised, no proposal is guaranteed but what is and always has been resolute is that humans desire to be appreciated and validated. Many times this starts with a simple smile or a question of “How is your day going?”
Building solid relationships is a vital part of any successful venture. A solid, healthy business relationship will:
- Consider you for the next big project.
- Keep your doors open when business has slowed down
- Exhibit loyalty between both parties
- Prove to be the ultimate lifeline to your business and sustainability of growth to your bottom line.
In this post highlighting strong business relationships, I would like to honor one of my long standing partnerships and relationship with Cassandra Pierce, Senior Catering Sales Executive, Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway. She has been with the Marriott Corporation for many years and a valuable asset to the company. She does a stellar job at everything that she does. Her unparallel work ethics and business acumen is one of rarity. I have had the pleasure of working with Cassandra for many years and she sets the bar for excellence. I am honored to know her and work with her. If you are ever in need of a great venue for events or hotel accommodations in Atlanta, GA consider the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway, 2020 Convention Center Concourse, Atlanta, GA 30337.
In this fast pace business world, what are you doing to strengthen your vendor/ business relationships? How have these relationships helped your small business grow? Please share your small biz diamonds in the comments section below.
Monica Jackson is the Executive Director of her Atlanta-based event planning firm Extraordinaire Affairs & Events LLC. She specializes in adding a touch of “Extra” ordinary to the “Ordinary” for her clients’ corporate, wedding, or themed events. Visit Monica’s website www.extraordinaire-affairs.com and connect with her on Facebook for your next event.
Have a successful day!