Supplier relationships are not more important than customer or employee relationships. But too many business owners and business experts don't even put them in the same ballpark. They treat suppliers like the awkward cousins at Thanksgiving dinner.
That is a mistake.
Your suppliers have more skin in the game (the game of your success) than your customers or your employees.
The Enlightened Self Interest Test
Want to test that? Ask your customers if they would like to pay you more, or sooner, to help your business out. Ask your employees if you could pay them less, or later, to help your business out.
The answer will be "No!"
Your customers say they love your business, and are loyal to a degree. Your employees like their jobs, and would rather keep them than not. But would either group give up anything just to keep you in business? Not usually.
Your suppliers would. Even a mediocre supplier understands your success is their success. And the best suppliers understand their support in the right moments can save a business or vault it to another level of growth.
The Supplier Advantage
When economic factors negatively impact your margins, your customers and employees are not going to adjust their expectations to protect your profits. A good supplier will.
When you are in a serious cash flow crunch there isn't much your customers or employees will do to keep the bailiff from the door. A good supplier will.
Read also: The One Relationship That Matters: Coaching
Want to ask what is going on with your competitors? Your suppliers can often give you insight hard to find elsewhere. Co-op advertising dollars? That's a supplier thing. Intelligence about the newest trends in your industry? Ask your supplier.
Do you want to leverage this relationship to grow your business? Do one thing: communicate.
Get in there and sit down with your suppliers' business managers before you need equipment for that big job. Call them before your account crosses 30 days. Spend an extra ten minutes with your suppliers' sales team asking them what they know.
The price of entry to this exclusive peer-support club is a timely phone call, a head's up email, an extra few minutes to chat. And if you want to go nuts, a coffee, a box of donuts or a case of beer, will get you box seats to your own winning game.
Let your suppliers know what you need to become more successful, to put more money in your pocket, to grow the business. Your suppliers win when you do.
Want to learn more? Download our free blueprint for growth: It Works Like This - The Story of Your Business!