Maintaining strong working relationships with key customers and suppliers is simply good business. Here are three key steps that will help this process.
Many businesses have a small handful of key suppliers and customers with whom they do the majority of their business. For others, having lots of smaller ones helps to diversify risk.
Regardless of which strategy you employ in your business, maintaining strong working relationships with suppliers and customers is critical to ensuring those relationships remain healthy and mutually beneficial.
It is a strong focus on stakeholder engagement to which Andrew Lupton, of Nonna’s Gourmet Sausages and Deli, attributes much of his success in business.
Here are Andrew’s key tips for relationship management with customers and suppliers:
Listen to your customers
“You learn a lot just from listening to your customers, as we all know,” Andrew says.
“[But] some companies don't do that. My sales guys, that's what they do.
“They're not really order-takers because the customer tends to generate his own orders. He knows when his shelf is empty and he knows where to get replacements from. It's easy these days. The internet has made that very easy.”
Give your customers face time
When asked how he keeps relationships close and fresh with his customers, Andrew’s response is clear and decisive.
“Boots on the ground,” he says.
“They love it. [Especially smaller operators,] they need to be nurtured along. They need a visit.”
Pay your bills on time
According to Andrew, paying your suppliers on time is the best way to stay in their good books and ensure they remain loyal to you.
“And just make sure that you're buying every week from the same person. Be loyal. Just be loyal. If you change your suppliers all the time in that sector, then you will have problems,” he says.
Check out more insights from Andrew on the My Business Podcast now!
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.