Having worked as an Exec at Citrix, Founder, CEO, and CMO at various tech companies, I have seen the following scenario play out over and over and over.
The “nameless” company enters into an agreement with a vendor, let’s say it’s for a web design project. The project has a Statement of Work (SOW), a timeline and deliverables. There is a standing weekly call and daily email exchanges. All standard stuff until the project gets underway.
One of the first things I notice is that vendor communication is not treated with the same respect as employee communication.
It’s unspoken, but generally acceptable to be late to vendor calls, not show up at all or cancel at the last minute. However, if the vendor was to do any of the aforementioned, they are considered subpar assholes.
Then comes the dreaded change request.
Let’s say that the Project Manager decides he/she wants to change the color palette of the website. No small feat considering the project is well underway. Now here’s the rub. The change request will put the Project Manager over budget. Not wanting to go over budget he reaches out to the vendor to call in a favor.
The vendor does it, becuase they value the long term relationship. In reality the vendor is eating into their margin and it throws of the cadence of their other projects.
Now another change comes, and then another. The Project Manager continues to ask for the world from the vendor. Setting up emergency phone calls, weekly. Throwing the vendor under the bus when an unrealistic deadline isn’t made, and so on.
Fast forward, the project is delivered a month late and over budget. The Project Manager puts the majority of the blame on the vendor, and he moves on to his next project. Knowing he can’t ever use that vendor again because he was talking shit about them to his peers. So, the vendor is essentially blackballed.
The example I’m giving is fictitious, but based on actual events.
What the dumb shit Project Manager failed to understand is that the vendors are holding his company in their hands. If that vendor was to bounce in the middle of the project he was screwed. He wouldn’t have been fired but it would have been bad.
When you treat your vendors like employees, like family, magic happens.
They are so accustomed to being treated like shit that they bend over backwards to help you be successful. Even willing to lose money on a job or two to keep you for the long term (I don’t recommend the vendor does that, but I’ve seen it).
Just being honest, kind and punctual moves you to the top 90% of their client list. Want to move to the top 99%; pay them on time, every time.
Want to move to the top of the list…forever? Invite them to your company Christmas party, or send them a bottle of wine. That simple gesture, above all else shows you genuinely give a shit about them as people. Know one takes that last step, ever.
Just stop to think about all your vendors and how they take care of you. One of the most overlooked I’ve seen in my career is the person that comes in to clean the kitchen. Rarely does anyone talk to them, or even say good morning.
Walk up to him/her, ask him his name. Shake his hand. Thank him. And for God sakes invite him to the Christmas party or New Years Party or whatever the hell else it is you celebrate. Just do it!
When you start treating your vendors like employees, like family, it will transform your culture and your business.
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