Generally speaking, there is a simple principle for pursuing growth as a business owner: align your resources with your business strategy. Of course, when put into practice, this principle becomes increasingly complex; there are countless opportunities for strategic alignment. Essentially, you must review every aspect of your internal organizational structure and align every facet to a broader goal or budget line objective. However, it’s important to not just think internally but externally as well. In the manufacturing industry, the vendor relationship is a valuable, but often-overlooked, resource. Improving and aligning your vendor relationships will enormously contribute toward strategic growth. To that end, you need to ensure that your vendors are working with you, not against you.
When was the last time you had a strategic conversation with your vendor?
Historically, communication between manufacturers and vendors has been ineffective at best, and often nonexistent. In many cases, manufacturers and vendors establish an initial understanding but then fail to grow together overtime because they are not on the same page. As the manufacturer evolves and grows, it overlooks planning for that growth with their vendor and then simply tolerates the resulting inefficiencies. It is important to establish a real, adaptable relationship with your vendor, not just a static agreement. As a business owner, you should be having frequent and regular conversations with your vendor to discuss your current situation and plan for future growth together. If your current vendor is unwilling to have those discussions or unequipped to deal with change, then it is time to reevaluate that relationship and find a new vendor who can strategically align with your goals. The first step, though, is to open the lines of communication and initiate those key conversations.
Why is this communication valuable?
Vendors should not be viewed as independent, external forces to be contended with, but as valuable resources to be aligned with your strategic goals. By ignoring the potential of vendor relationships, manufacturers are missing a key business opportunity. Manufacturers and vendors have complementary objectives: growth for one means growth for the other. However, if you don’t strategically align those objectives in terms of the specifics of your relationship, you fall out of sync. Conversely, when you and your vendor have an understanding and are working toward a common goal, you can leverage each other’s strengths and rely on the other’s capabilities. Open communication and cooperative planning will benefit everyone and contribute hugely to overall growth.