How to Manage Vendor Relationships


Your dealership cannot survive in a bubble. You rely everyday on vendors and suppliers to help keep things moving along. These relationships are a valuable part of your success. Too often, vendors are treated as expendable and are not given the respect they deserve.

Problems with vendors can often be traced back to poor planning, bad communication or incorrect expectations. Building relationships with vendors is hard work and requires time and effort (not to mention money) to develop. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you better manager your vendor relationships for long-term success.

Perform Your Due Diligence. Just as with any relationship, finding the right vendor takes time. If you are lucky enough to be given the choice between multiple vendors, take the time to understand and weigh the pros and cons of each vendor before initiating a relationship. This can save you a lot of trouble down the road.

Communicate. Many problems with vendors can be traced back to poor communication and unclear expectations. If your expectations are not expressly agreed to beforehand, you will likely end up disappointed. Never assume that a vendor knows your intentions. This is a recipe for disappointment and possible disaster.

Have a Back Up Plan. In the world of vendor relations, it is inevitable that a vendor will occasionally let you down. It is always a good idea to have a backup list of vendors you can call when you are in a pinch. This may require utilizing two or more vendors simultaneously so that one of them can pick up the slack if the other one drops the ball. As the old saying goes: Don’t put all of your eggs in the same basket.

Be Accountable for Your Mistakes. As discussed previously, it takes both a vendor and a client to make a successful vendor relationship. Sometimes problems are the vendors fault, but sometimes the client can also be at fault. If a situation arises that is caused by your dealership, own up to it. Work with the vendor to fix the problem and look for ways to prevent it from happening again.

If you are not able to admit when you are wrong, you can sour the relationship with a vendor. Just like the waiter who might spit in the soup of a rude restaurant patron, you have to expect that some vendors might get a bit vindictive if you don’t treat them right. This is a situation the is best avoided.

Pay your Bills. This seems simple enough, but don’t let your dealership get out of trust with a vendor by paying bills late. Some vendors are small businesses and don’t have a lot of cash to float. Other larger businesses might have very strict payment policies and could cut off the relationship for repeated late payments. Either way, don’t jeopardize a vendor relationship by not paying on time.

Be Flexible. Nothing in life is perfect. Things happen that are often out of anybody’s control. Whether an act of God, or a result of unforeseen circumstances, be reasonable with your vendors and allow for the normal flow of life to happen.