Five work hacks for improving supplier relationships

by Mike Sharkey

Keeping suppliers onside is essential in most industries. So how can you build effective relationships and develop better collaboration with your suppliers? Read our top tips here.

To foster long-term harmonious relationships with your suppliers and partners, there needs to be trust and good communication. But what are the best ways to establish these relationships in the first place, or improve relations with suppliers you already have?

1. Understand the contract

The contract between you and your supplier forms the bedrock of your relationship, so it's vital for your business collaboration that things are transparent. Make clear what you expect the supplier to deliver and when, and that they understand and are able to meet the terms. Ensure that you keep to your side of the contract. Share with your partners the information they need to deliver and always meet the agreed terms of payment.

2. Invest in collaboration tools

The right tools are essential for facilitating communication between you and your suppliers. Being able to discuss, plan and share information with each other is the key to a successful relationship.

Platforms like Workplace can be a powerful way of building closer partnerships with suppliers and other third parties. Using tools like multi-company groups enable you to collaborate with external teams, partners and customers in a secure space. They also provide easy document sharing and a useful record of your day-to-day discussions with suppliers. This can be a key way to grow relationships and collaborate effectively.

3. Address problems straight away

You may think that things are starting to go wrong with your supplier but feel reluctant to say anything in case it damages the relationship. This is a mistake. Addressing issues as soon as they arise will ensure that you both can nip problems in the bud.

4. Keep an accurate record

When every discussion is consistently saved on one platform, it's easy to keep track of responsibilities on both sides. This makes it easier to see where things went awry, should any problems occur.

It's easy to shift blame onto someone else when something goes wrong. But keeping a record of your business conversations helps reduce the potential for misunderstandings and enhances business collaboration on both sides.

5. Enjoy working together

By aligning yourself with your suppliers and seeing your relationship as a business partnership, both businesses are likely to achieve higher success rates. Enhancing business collaboration means higher productivity and capability for innovation. Costs and price reductions might even be on the cards – a huge benefit to you – which will, in turn, boost your loyalty to your supplier. Facilitating collaboration is win-win for all parties involved.

Managing suppliers and partners can be a time-consuming process. It can be a full-time job. As new tools and working practices change the way people work, it's more important than ever to connect, engage and collaborate with external teams.

Identify the working practices that will enable you to do this. And experiment with platforms that integrate with the business tools people use every day. That way, you can find new ways to develop your long-term relationships with suppliers.

Watch how LTI uses multi-company groups to engage with the external job market. And try Workplace Premium free for 90 days.

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