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Your choice of vendors can make the difference between being successful and failing your business venture.

Everything you do through your company is impacted by your relationship with vendors. It doesn’t just boil down to product placement. You have to deal with meetings, keep good track of your orders, payments, and contracts. These are not things you can usually do by yourself while still overseeing inventory, talking to customers, and promoting the business.

To sense of everything and to make sure your business is running smooth you need efficient vendor management for small businesses. This, however, is easier said than done so here are a few tips that can help you get started on the right track.

Clear Communication

Your vendor is already busy with overseeing his share of tasks. Whenever something comes up on your end you shouldn’t waste time communicating any issues. Scheduled meetings are one thing but problems can arise at any moment.

To have a successful small business vendor management your vendor manager must be informed of everything that goes on at all times. Waiting for weekly reviews before signaling some concerns or promoting new ideas is not efficient.

Making a point of talking to suppliers often is also good. It can help you stay apprised of payment plans and new opportunities. It essentially gives you a better overall look over your business. You don’t need all the details as long as you get the highlights as often as you can.

Keep Your Options Open

In small business vendor management, it can be tempting to put all your eggs in one basket. It makes it seem like operations work smooth and everyone is having a good time. Keep in mind that your business and your customers are the most important ones in this.

You might want to allow yourself room to grow. Competitive offers can come on a daily basis. Just because you’ve been partnered with a vendor for years it doesn’t mean you’re getting the bigger end of the stick.

You always want to study what others have to offer. Since you already have someone appointed to micromanage operations, you can use some of that free time to explore other options. Better prices for you generally means better prices for your customers which will make them come back more often.

Ask for Expert Opinions

Before you contemplate running your business with an iron fist, consider this. Vendors don’t just give you a convenient price for their services. They can bring so much more value and knowledge to the partnership.

Since you’re dealing with small business vendor management remember that they are the experts on the topic and not you. Involving them when you want to come up with new marketing strategies or selling plans can benefit both parties greatly.

Proper Inventory Management

Often times a small business will hurt itself by not being able to meet the supplier’s demands. Sure you’ve got some great vendor management but what good is that if your inventory is all over the place.

To have a successful partnership with your vendors first you have to show professionalism on your part. This means using all the appropriate tools at your disposal to make sure you can handle all the requests.

For instance, you can use software like DataQlick to take on the bulk of the tasks such as monitoring payments, tracking products, organizing requests, and prioritizing all of them accordingly. This will allow you to have all the necessary data on hand at all times.

You can also involve vendors in your inventory management. A VMI or Vendor Managed Inventory allows your partners to access data themselves and track your inventory. That way you don’t have to waste time in meetings or on the phone with constantly asking for more merchandise.

Choosing the Perfect Fit

Before you agree to a deal with your first or newest supplier you need to be very sure about the move you’re about to make. Bringing someone that won’t be a good fit with other partners might damage the relationships you worked hard to maintain. In other words, it’s not good for small business vendor management.

Sometimes you may feel like picking the lesser of two evils. It may seem like the right move at the time but it doesn’t make it any less detrimental to your vendor management. Taking a bit of extra time and gathering more information is important.

You’re not only responsible for bringing in someone new but you’re also responsible for how that new supplier might impact your relationship with customers. Don’t assume that a few delayed orders, bad deliveries, and insufficient stock listings go unnoticed.

A successful partnership with vendors and having efficient vendor management for small businesses starts with communication. Involving others that are more knowledgeable than you in important decisions is always good as it shows great leadership skills, not weakness.