Like any other relationship, communication is key to the success of a supply chain. While this may be easier in small businesses, it gets more complex as tasks become departmentalized. Yet, it remains one of the areas that needs constant improvement. Cooperation between businesses and vendors can be a challenge. And with poor communication practices, everything becomes even more grueling.
Communication is not just passing information. The channels, tone and clear delivery of expectations should be prioritized in any supply chain. This is why it’s important for produce business owners to determine the best communication practices for nurturing and growing relationships with vendors.
Investing in a software solution that streamlines all elements of your produce business, such as Silo, is one way to improve communication with your vendors.
Vendor communication best practices
Use technology strategically
Manual transactions are way behind us. So, how do you avoid miscommunication with your vendors while still gaining critical insights about your business? By streamlining purchases, sales, accounts, inventory, and payments, you will save time by being able to communicate more accurately and efficiently with vendors.
Use the right communication tools
The communication tools used to relay information to vendors can affect the result. There are no one-size-fits-all communication channels to achieve this.
However, using collaborative communication tools to better communicate with your produce vendors can benefit your business and your relationships. For faster communication, look for software that has built-in communication tools. This will enhance uniformity, reliability, and predictability and ease decision-making processes.
Set clear expectations from the start
This is a vital step to ensure a smooth-running supply chain. What is the supply schedule? What about the payments? Having clear expectations reduces the chances of miscommunication between a produce business and its vendor. Communicate ways that you want your business to run.
Some of the reasons why produce companies lose revenue include the high cost of rush shipping from the vendors, produce shortages, and late deliveries to consumers. Once you start working with a vendor without setting clear expectations, expect headaches in all aspects of your business.
If dealing with multiple vendors, ensure that you have listed vendor guidelines. These may differ based on the type of produce. Vendor guidelines will help set quality control, delivery timeframes, and pricing guidelines. This should be done during the onboarding period.
Set up vendor training and onboarding
Training and onboarding apply even in the supply chain. It is vital to educate your vendors on the essential processes, communication channels, and other vital information about the partnership. This process will help the vendors differentiate their business model from other entities since you have highlighted your specific requirements.
Prioritize the vendors
Even with all other aspects of your company running smoothly, your business would not survive without its vendors, regardless of the type of produce that you sell. Nurturing vendor relationships results in increased customer satisfaction, better product quality, reduced costs, and even better services from the vendors.
Introducing contracts is a simple idea, yet, it can improve the relationship between entrepreneurs and vendors. The vendor contracts should have all the relevant information, even the seemingly small details.
For instance, all vendors should know their contact person from your produce distribution company, as listed in a contract. Including the contact information such as the phone number and email address eliminates any uncertainty on the vendor’s side. These details can be updated in the contract in case of any changes.
The power of options
You are in charge of your business. However, before making a tough decision that affects the vendors, offer options instead of one dictated aspect. You give the vendors a sense of influence where they feel they have a say in the decision. While you may not implement all their suggestions, incorporate a few elements of their recommendations in your business model.
Get into the habit of recognizing your vendor’s efforts and celebrating positive milestones. Regularly ask your vendors to highlight areas that they need support or areas of struggle.
Take a friendly approach in solving hurdles
You will not always be on the same page with the vendors. However, taking a friendly approach to solving problems is one way to better your relationship. Before taking any serious measures, try to uncover opportunities and solutions that help the relationship.
The importance of communication with produce vendors cannot be ignored. The benefits are unmatched, from increased customer satisfaction and revenue to on-time produce delivery.
A good relationship between a business and vendors goes both ways. While you are supporting the vendors in their ventures, they are also contributing to the success of your business, and as such, devising positive communication pathways creates a positive relationship and can lead to more opportunities.