Making the most of client-vendor relationships can create a fresh perspective on the bottom lineDownload White Paper
The pace of business today leaves little time for in-depth planning, what-if calculations or proactive considerations. With a litany of pressing projects to tackle, you need information, pricing, delivery and installation yesterday. It’s no wonder the item marked “Evaluate air movement solutions” continues to move its way down the list.
Making time to research solutions, hear from product sales people, review proposals and make recommendations or purchase decisions can easily weigh you down. The natural tendency is to commoditize the product and rely on price or fastest proposal turnaround as the determining factor.
What’s more, the demands your own customers are making on you add to your time and resource constraints. You need to provide your customers with solutions that are faster, better and cheaper or they will find someone who can. Perhaps it's time to exit rush mode and consider the potential economic value to be gained from building better, more valuable relationships with your vendors. With less money, less time and fewer staff you have even more reason to enhance the value of these relationships. First, eliminate the sales people who are determined to put you through their 40-slide PowerPoint deck while touting product features and company milestones. Instead surround yourself with vendors that can be value-added partners.
Things you should be able to say about your vendor
It may take a little time and effort to uncover the air movement vendor who is going to provide that rewarding relationship. However, you will soon be benefiting from better solutions, greater efficiencies, lower operating costs and a valuable resource on your side.
When evaluating vendors, there are certain traits that can help guide your decision-making process. First, are the non-negotiable ones: quality products, on-time delivery, highly responsive customer service and competitive pricing. Assuming your vendor performs consistently and reliably in those areas, you can begin to evaluate the additional value they are able to offer.
Review these statements and check the ones that apply to your current air movement solutions vendor. Also, review the sidebar “Things You Should Be Able to Say About Your Vendor” for more insight.
Consultative vendor-partner in action
ABC Company* (a $17B transportation manufacturer) touts the benefits of their vendor relationship.
Taking the time to find this type of partner will save you time in the future. Consider how often proposals need to be revised because specifications change, new information is discovered and projects stall. When the time is spent to cultivate this type of relationship, the vendor can help create more proactive situations. They can help develop and manage project specifications by gathering input. A vendor partner also has a team of resources specializing in air movement technology and solutions. Getting them involved in the early stages can open new opportunities for more creative thinking and better solutions. This can help to drastically reduce the number of changes moving forward, saving you time and stress.
Effective vendor relationships can save you time by providing a good education as well. As mentioned, they are experts in air movement technology and the products and services they offer (as well as their competitors). Leverage this resource to further improve buying decisions. Perhaps you’ve only purchased radial blade fans for your conveyor from this vendor, but realizing they can also offer solutions for your drying equipment enables you to consolidate your efforts and enhance your buying power.
Well-nurtured relationships can also create business opportunities. Consider inviting your vendor to strategic meetings that involve air movement applications. Since they are the experts in this area, you can tap into their expertise in order to gain a competitive advantage.
One of the most common business priorities for all industrial companies is to continually improve operational efficiencies. Minimizing redundancy or waste in processes, improving productivity, increasing throughput…these are all components of an efficient operation. Taking the time to explain what these goals mean to your organization should yield air movement solutions designed to support such objectives. See sidebar “Consultative Vendor-partner in Action”. Consider the time involved or even the likelihood of coming to this type of conclusion without a trusted partner who is tuned-in to your unique business needs.
The more information you provide, the better suited your vendor is to solve problems. From your vendor’s perspective, your problems are their opportunities. A trusted partner should be eager to have you share your problems, big or small. Such insight, for example, may reveal a need for a special coating or a custom feature that can be engineered into the system. As a business partner, your vendor should be more concerned with your goals and objectives than taking an order for a specific fan.
While the customer is king, it is important to remember that your vendor is in business to make money, too. If you are constantly leaning on them to cut costs, the relationship and even product quality will likely suffer. Part of a successful vendor relationship is to contribute knowledge or resources that may help the vendor better serve you. Asking questions of your vendor will help you understand their side of the business and build a better relationship.
The time and effort that contributes to creating a solid relationship with your vendor is about more than getting the lowest price. Most often the lowest price also brings the lowest quality. The result you are seeking is value. You should be ready to assess the value of receiving better air movement solutions targeted at your specific needs. You should also be willing to consistently monitor the vendor’s performance according to the requirements that are most critical to your business. Establish these criteria upfront to ensure clear expectations as the relationship develops.
The pace of business is probably not going to change, doing more with less is here to stay and our project lists will not get any shorter. This raises the level of importance of developing a solid partnership with your air movement vendor. Creating vendor relationships built on trust, information sharing, problem-solving and value can save you time and resources that can be directed toward other business priorities.
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When you reevaluate the concept of basing vendor selection on price you are likely to make an even greater contribution to the bottom line. Through careful selection, strategic development and on-going evaluation, you can create a vendor partnership that will help you improve operational efficiencies, reduce costs and provide your company with valuable air movement solutions.