Three Ways to Improve Your Communication With Your Suppliers
When your supply chain is knotted or broken altogether, you cannot obtain the parts that are essential to making the products your customers want.
Supply chain disruption quickly leads to frustration, confusion, disillusionment and abandonment. Implement concrete steps to facilitate better communication with your suppliers to minimise the chances of a fatal disturbance to your production.
Keep Suppliers in the Loop
A sure way to plant the seeds of mistrust is by failing to maintain the lines of discussion with your crucial suppliers. As soon as your company’s management team has decided on a course of action regarding spending priorities, product changes or new policies, make it known to the manufacturers who will be directly affected. When you do, you will be paving the way for your vendors to be better prepared to meet your needs when you eventually make your requests.
Provide Specific Information
Just what types of intelligence should you share with third-party suppliers? Consider providing them with the following information as soon as you are ethically able to do so:
- Long-term plans and strategies, including a request for feedback;
- Draft statements of work;
- Drafts of future solicitations;
- Sources sought notices.
Disseminating information about your business goals and market priorities in advance gives vendors time to prepare and respond. When you combine this foresight with a willingness to solicit and listen to feedback, you increase the chances that these companies will deliver the supplies you want in a timely fashion.
Add a Dose of Empathy
You don’t often hear the phrase about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes applied to the rough-and-tumble world of business. However, the ability to mentally place yourself in your suppliers’ position can give you insight into their goals, expectations and needs that can, in turn, assist you in tailoring your proposals. When you work hard to foster an environment of mutual respect that considers the challenges and obstacles your vendors face, they will be more likely to reciprocate when you express your own deadlines and priorities.
Keep Your Interactions Results-Driven
Respect and good feelings are important, but that doesn’t mean you should slow your meetings down with a flood of small talk or flattery. The focus of your interactions should be direct, transparent and purpose-oriented. If you are not working to solve a problem that has arisen or to attain a goal, it’s time to get the discussions back on track. After all, time is money.
Your suppliers are invaluable. They furnish the parts and components necessary for you to assemble your products. Before you can begin processing a bill of materials, you need to build a strong foundation of reciprocal communication between your company and each of the vendors that supplies the building blocks you need. Once you do, the entire process will flow more smoothly.