Customers are the number one priority for most business owners, but vendors shouldn’t be neglected, either. Don’t take “getting along” as your standard for dealing with vendors. Business owners who foster good relationships with vendors can eliminate many issues, optimize inventory flow, and even get discounts on batch orders and special offers. Making vendors love you isn’t hard if you go about it the right way.
Use a Small Business Vendor Management Tool
When you can manage all your vendors and suppliers in one place it’s easier to tell who is who. You will have easy access to their contact information, and can update it if it changes. You will also be able to quickly check terms, product counts, or add notes. The ability to add notes can be particularly helpful, as you can jot down reminders about the quirks of every vendor representative, such as when it’s best to call them, what minimum quantities to order, etc. With this information at hand, you can delegate vendor management tasks to others more easily.
Automate Purchase Orders and Management
Being able to manage purchase orders in one place virtually eliminates human errors. You can check old orders, reuse the same shipment information and vendor details, and more. You not only save time, but make sure the right products get shipped to the right address without the need for additional phone calls or emails.
With a sales and inventory software for small business you can set stock replenishment rules based on individual values for every item. When these drop, new orders are automatically placed. You can go a step further and work out purchase order rules with vendors, setting up details as preferred shipping method or location, packaging and more.
Don’t Make a Fuss When Problems Arise
When dealing with multiple vendors from different locations, delayed shipments, shipment errors, or damaged items are ultimately unavoidable. With quality vendors, these happen but rarely. But even so they can happen, and many of them can be caused by factors outside of the vendor’s control.
The temptation to start a row when this happens will be high, especially if your order fulfillment rate drops as a result. Having the patience to accept these problems and work out a solution can make a big difference. Most vendor representatives will remember your positive reaction and treat you accordingly.
Communicate Your Strategy
Consider sharing your three-year plan with your main vendors and suppliers. Not only will this tell them what to expect, but some may even share with your their experience with previous suppliers. This is especially important if you plan to open new warehouses, expand to new states, or invest in dropshipping later on. Big vendors tend to do a lot of planning and forecasting, and the more they know about their suppliers, the more accurate their math becomes.
Pay As Early as You Can
The truth is that few businesses pay their suppliers early. Most hold on to their money until the last possible moment. This advice may seem counter-intuitive, but paying early is a great way to get your main supplier to notice you. Don’t expect any immediate benefits from this, but rather more flexibility in the long-term. So long as you have a good cash flow, try to pay as early as possible.
Use a Good Inventory Control App
Few things are more annoying for suppliers than to have to cancel or change an order, or to add to it additional shipments because the client got the numbers wrong. If you’re still working with spreadsheets, or use an old inventory control software, these issues can appear more easily. Invest in a good inventory control app that tells you exactly what you need to order, and can provide accurate forecasts. Make it mobile and integrate it with QuickBooks, Xero, or your other accounting software to take all your inventory data with you anywhere you go.