Do you get frustrated when you are contacted by a company asking you to submit a quote for a project, which you do, only to never hear from them again? Not so much as an acknowledgement of receiving your email or a "we'll be in touch soon" message. And even worse, as you follow up, they don't even have the courtesy to return your call.
This is irritating and to be honest rude, but what does this it do the reputation of the company that asked you to submit the quote in the first place? Clearly not much. Often we think that our reputation is only built by what our customers say about us, but it's not that simple.
We all talk about businesses, those that we recommend and those that we don't. If you have a bad experience with a company that wasted your time and was rude, it's unlikely you will have anything good to say about them.
Over the years I've found that if I've had a bad experience with a company in this way, I'm not the only one. Talking with other suppliers in the same competitive space and it soon becomes obvious that this company has a reputation for being unprofessional. Once this reputation is developed it is hard to shake - and I have no doubt that it will have a direct impact on their business.
The best businesses that I have worked with have always treated their suppliers really well. This showed a really strong, positive and professional internal culture that was all about treating everyone well, staff, customers and suppliers. And no surprise, these businesses are very successful.
Of course they also had suppliers who were raving fans and suppliers who would go way above and beyond the call of duty to do anything to help their customers. Relationships like this can make or break a business, particularly in the tough times.
When it comes to treating suppliers professionally, I suggest the following:
1. If you ask for a quote have the courtesy to acknowledge receiving it.
Remember it takes time, energy and money to do quotes, show respect by taking a few seconds to acknowledge receiving it. Ideally explain to the tendering business roughly how long the decision making process will be and advise them that you will be in touch one way or another.
2. Let the unsuccessful businesses know they missed out.
When you decide on a company to award a particular project or order, make sure you have the courtesy to let the unsuccessful applications know. Let them know why they were unsuccessful and you will find that most business owners will be disappointed but really grateful for the feedback.
3. Try to resolve issues as opposed to just cutting a supplier off with no notice.
If you've got a problem with a supplier, try and work it out, don't just stop using them with no explanation. At least give them a chance to rectify any issue and be open to the fact that even though they are the supplier, the problem could still be from your end.
4. Give your suppliers realistic time frames.
We are all suppliers to someone else, and nothing is more frustrating than those clients who continually issue unrealistic time frames. Most of the time the reason for the unrealistic time frame is their disorganization, which now you have to pay for. Remember how this makes you feel when you are working with your own suppliers.
5. Build a reputation for being good at paying your bills.
Always pay your bills on time. It's amazing how you can grow a fantastic reputation as a company by becoming known as a great payer. Who wouldn't say nice things about your company with a reputation like that?
6. It's all about respect.
Always treat your suppliers with respect. Even if they don't act as professionally as they should, don't use this as an excuse for you to act badly. Respect their time, respect their money and respect their advice.
7. Give feedback - build your supplier relationships.
Don't be afraid of giving feedback to a supplier at any stage in your working relationship. Smart suppliers will always take this on board. Most importantly look to build long term, win/win relationships that are good for all involved.