This past week, we had a meeting with one of our most professional customers. It was truly an enjoyable experience. Both sides were enthusiastic about project planning, both sides were looking for solutions, and everyone left the meeting excited about the future. The behavior of our best customers has influenced and shaped the kind of customer I want to be to all of our vendors. Here are a few thoughts on how to be a good customer:
1) Acknowledge that you have some amount of leverage over a vendor who is a product or service provider to your business, and then use that awareness to make sure you never exploit it.
2) Acknowledge that your vendors have to be profitable and pay their employees with families just like you. This is why a win/win is crucial. WalMart's initial climb made a lot of millionaire vendors along the way.
3) Create a culture of treating your vendors like your customers. If you make a point to treat your vendors like you would a customer, you will have a trustworthy network of loyal vendors that will help you grow your business. Remember that rising water lifts all ships.
4) Proper expectations can make all the difference in the world. If you expect your vendors to be perfect, and not experience the same challenges and mistakes that you face, you are setting the relationship up for failure. Just like with your customers, if you are doing your best and willing to fix mistakes, a little understanding goes a long way.
Mistreating your vendors makes it impossible to grow a business because you will constantly be turning them over and starting from scratch. If you want to grow your business, treat your vendors how you would like to be treated and set an example by being a good customer.