The natural focus of companies is on fostering customer loyalty, however that’s not the only relationship you should be nurturing. A good relationship with your suppliers is just as important. In fact, it is so crucial as without them you have no service (or product).
As they play a major role in your business, it’s crucial that you do everything you can to keep them on board and happy. Look at them more than just someone who supplies products, venues and/or services. They must be your allies because the kind of relationship you have with them can influence your success.
To make your suppliers feel like they are a crucial part of your business is important. They’ll feel more invested, more determined to make a positive outcome for both. Be honest and inform them of updates, other venues held or other options you are looking at. Everyone appreciated honesty and respects you more for it. At Hippo this forms one of our core principals – indeed the H in “Hippo” stands for Honesty. In case you’re desperately wondering what our other principals are, the answer is (Honesty)-Initiative-Personal-Proactive-On target.
A 2013 report from management consultancy Efficio Consulting showed that there are very few companies that are enhancing supplier relationships. Recognise that your suppliers are not just vendors. They are your partners, and this partnership should be based not only on financial transactions, but also on mutual trust and loyalty.
If you appreciate their work, let them know. Take time to thank them. A stronger, deeper relationship with clear and frequent communication allows this communication to become more organic. Nurturing relationships over a period of time leads both them and you to a better understanding of expectations, the way in which they work, best ways to negotiate, their company, their events, their values and so on. As a consequence, the service will improve, becoming more efficient, with less “grey areas” and any challengers which may arise can be handled more effectively. Hippo endeavour to position ourselves as an extension of our clients’ teams, rather than be seen as a separate entity, as we believe any Event Planner should.
Fundamentally, better supplier relationships coincide with more negotiation power. The strong relationship you have the further people will go to meet your budgets and exceed expectations. They go above and beyond not only for the event itself, but for you personally. It means that little bit extra to the person.
Moreover, for you to meet your deadlines and provide excellent service to clients, you need to have the things you need on time. What’s great about having an excellent relationship with your suppliers is they will prioritise you. They will deliver the goods (sometimes quite literally!) on time, every time. In addition, they’ll make sure that you get the best they can offer.
Hippo always remember the saying “price is what you pay, but value is what you get”. Nothing is better for growing your profits than getting a quality service or product for the right price. Take a 5* hotel for example, you get what you pay for (hopefully!). Sometimes it’s better to pay a little more because the supplier is giving you a better service which pays for itself. In theory, you’d need to provide less time to manage them due to their efficiency, or because they can be trusted to deliver exceptional service to your client if, for example, you’re just doing the Venue Find.
Regular contact with your suppliers is also more efficient for keeping up to date on product knowledge. Hippo spend a huge amount of time seeing venues, building relationships, having face-to-face meetings with suppliers as we are only as good as our knowledge and skills. Throughout the conversations had, we know what is new, cutting edge, forthcoming or what has worked well in the past. It allows us to do the fundamentals flawlessly and the unusual impressively. By keeping regular contact, your suppliers are more likely to regularly inform you of updates, rather than you having to seek out the information constantly yourself. An excellent time saver!
Finally, and to bring it back to the absolute basics, having good relationships with suppliers is fun! Think about the last time you called a supplier and had a good nitter-natter before getting into the nitty gritty. The conversation was a lot more fun than a cold call with someone you don’t know and are not emotionally invested in. Working with people you know, and trust makes you that little bit happier. It relieves stress, creates a smile and breeds positivity.
To all our suppliers, we thank you for all your hard work and look forward to continuing our positive relationships with you.