When you operate a business, one of the many things you’ll need to do is deal with suppliers. Suppliers can be tricky to manage as they don’t directly work for you, have other clients and commitments, and as you don’t deal with them on a regular basis, there may be things happening behind the scenes that are out of your control. The best way to handle suppliers is to build better relationships, and the tips below could help you to better manage them.

Honesty is the best policy

When dealing with your suppliers, honesty is certainly the best policy. Even if you have to have difficult conversations with suppliers, you should always conduct conversations openly and honestly. If you’re going to be late with a payment, tell them and if they’re late with delivery – you should address it. Leaving things to get swept under the rug can lead to tension and difficult relationships that could cause problems for your business.

Evaluate performance regularly

Business is becoming more and more competitive, and with international suppliers better able to compete with local businesses, the landscape is definitely changing. You should evaluate your suppliers every year or every two years to assess their performance, and whether or not they’re delivering, particularly for items like gas oil which are regularly needed (and often next day in some cases), that may be getting delayed due to poor suppliers. Opening up tendering processes for your suppliers is another way to make sure that you get the best suppliers for the job.

Be clear in your expectations

When working with suppliers, it’s easy to take their advice on things like delivery, requirements, etc. However, it’s you that understands your business better than anyone, and if there’s something that you need or want, you need to know how to ask for it and to make those asks clear to the supplier. Outline what it is you need, when you need it, and if they can’t agree to these terms, then you should consider looking for other suppliers instead. There are many basic principles for managing suppliers that you should study and apply to your own methods.

Spend time with them

One way to build better relationships with your suppliers is to spend time with them. Arrange face-to-face meetings if you can or even social events that they can come to such as dinners, drinks to help keep those relationships working well. Seeing each other face-to-face can help iron out communication issues and make your relationship much more mutually beneficial. Having someone in your team whose responsibility it is to manage supplier relationships will always mean that there’s a point of contact in your organization and keeps things nice and neat for the supplier too.

If you find yourself struggling to manage supplier relationships, then you might want to consider if you’re too trusting when it comes to your business. Speaking to a business adviser is a great way to find out where you’re going wrong and to help you come up with an appropriate solution to strengthen your skills in this area.