Enjoyed your pod cast - on vendor relationships - especially thinking in terms of boss and subordinate. I always treat our vendors with respect - a few years back I needed a part turned on a Sunday morning for an emergency - my long term vendor went to work and did it for us.

But what do you do about evil vendors - unless you are a big company - all of the major shipping firms treat you like dirt - just an example if they damage your shipment - or lose it - before they will even entertain your claim - they demand you pay freight charges in advance.

Had the same problem with one of my favorite vendors - who we even praised in press releases - and then they got bought by a bigger firm - their terms went from net 10 days to PIA - quote times from 1 day to 45 days -delivery times 6 weeks to 6 months and the terms were the most adverse I've ever seen - including delivery whenever they want.

The answer is to replace the vendor - but sometimes this is not possible.

pucciot's picture
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I think one main thing to remember when we are dealing with a vendor is that we are also dealing with an individual (or several individuals).
The example that you give sounds like a company policy which leads you to feel that the entire company is evil.

This is not the same as having a good relationship with the individual person that you have to deal with that is representing the company.

We also have vendors for which there is no substitute.
Here is one example : Our Faculty demand that we get the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
There is only one source for that journal. There are no alternative journals.

Either we get a subscription to NEJM or we do not. And according to our faculty and administrators -- not subscribing is _not_ an option.

This makes negotiating a good price very difficult. And with the escalating price increases they have been throwing at us -- it tempts several peers of mine to feel they are being evil.

This, however, is no excuse for me not to have a good relationship with the Customer Service Rep that is assigned to my region.

Sometimes, you are right, we just have to grin and bear it. And wait for those short and small opportunities to improve our position. They do come up some times.

In the mean time, if you keep good relations, you might be able to get treated better by that Customer Service rep.

Quicker responses to emails and phone calls
More willing to do corporate sponsorship of an event
Take you to lunch when visiting at a conference
Some extra promo materials flyers, posters, and extra swag for your staff. Pens, and USB drives are nice.

Ya - know --- and sometimes it just plain makes life a little more pleasant went you feel like you are able to deal with a fellow human being in a calm respectful way --- and get the same kind of respect back. Even if the outcome wasn't greatly in your favor.

I have never lost sleep over getting a bad deal. But, I have lost sleep when I have felt rancor and disrespect from customer service rep.

Take care


thomaserb's picture

Thanks for the note - evil is a pretty serious accusation - but vendors like this keep myself and my staff up at night - One of these companies - tortured my purchasing agent - who was very ill at the time - I honestly thought the were hiring retired staff from the RMV  - and it was everyone who worked at this company.


We did get a small victory - they were unable to deliver on time  - but had our funds - we got the credit card company to reverse the charges - boy they were not happy  they yelled and screamed at us - and this firm is 500M division of  a 5B company.


My take away is when given the choice - always keep away from large organizations - but no idea how to deal with the big ones when you don't have a choice.

randren's picture
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At the top of your post, you mentioned a podcast on vendor relationships.  Where is that? I am not seeing much on a search for "vendor" or "supplier".  Thank you!


LOLOL's picture
CarlCoach's picture

This is a very interesting topic for me. thanks for the link. I'll go and look.

amp2140's picture

I'm in the service delivery business.  I'm in the unfortunate position that my vendors are frequently my competitors.  What I've found to be helpful, especially when you're dealing with the same vendors over and over is to make sure you go out of your way when people have done a good job.  It makes it way easier when you're talking to the same manager you sent a nice note to about an employee when you have to talk to them about a negative experience.