Most of us concentrate our efforts on the selling process to expand our customer base. We also spend a fair amount of time on customer service activities to retain those clients. But it’s important to remember that we are all someone’s customer, too.
As our business has expanded, we have become a more significant customer to our suppliers. These relationships have broadened my perspective on what it means to be a good customer.
Our best vendor relationships happen when we achieve the proverbial “win-win.” It cannot be one-sided or it’s just not sustainable. Here are three key attributes that I find make Marco a better customer:
- Don’t beat your vendors up on price.
When your top priority is price, you diminish your value as a customer. Today the market establishes the price range for most products and services more than ever. So it’s fair to assume that you have to provide competitive pricing or you won’t be considered. In an effort to be a good customer, we recognize the value of our preferred suppliers and expect them to achieve fair profit margins. In return, we get better service and attention, especially when it matters most.
- Know what motivates your vendors.
When we sit down with our vendors, one of the most important questions I want to get answered is: “How can we help you achieve your goals?” It is way easier for us to be a good customer when I know what motivates them. For example, some of our vendors offer multiple product and service categories, and it’s important to them that we don’t just cherry pick their lines. Even though we can’t always accommodate their requests, we will certainly give them full consideration and move forward if it makes sense. I think understanding our vendors’ goals is the most important part of being a good customer.
- Remain open when issues arise.
Even in the best relationships, you’re going to face problems. You’ll often hear me say, relationships are defined when there is conflict. (View my blog on resolving conflict). When things are going well, anyone can manage a relationship - business or personal. It’s when things don’t go as planned that we put them to the test. Being a good customer means you’re willing to help solve the problem and are open to compromise. Jumping to a different vendor every time a problem occurs is not a good practice. I believe collaborating through issues supports a good relationship long-term.
When people say they got a “good deal," I think what they really mean is that they received a fair value for the price they paid. The value equation is a two-way street. Are you doing your part?