If you run a business, you probably use vendors in some way. If you use a bookkeeper, a marketing specialist or even a cleaning company, you work with vendors! In the business world, a vendor is someone that supplies a product or a service. DCA Virtual Business Support provides services through our Administrative and Creative Assistants. So, we are a … come on guess. Yes! We are a vendor. Over the last 11 years, we’ve learned a thing or two about working with different types of vendors on behalf of our clients.
As a business owner or entrepreneur, by nature, you’re wearing a lot of hats. As your company grows, you’re faced with a choice. You can expand your workforce to cover your needs or outsource the work to qualified vendors. There are a few key things to remember when outsourcing to a vendor to receive the best results for you and your small business. Understanding how to navigate these relationships will get you set up for success.
Start off on the right foot
When you first hire your vendor, you should expect an onboarding process. An onboarding process is a discussion between you and the vendor. This is where you would provide tangible assets and align on important goals, expectations, and define what success looks like. Understanding these items at the onset of the relationship creates happiness. When our clients are happy, we’re happy! You don’t need to give the vendor keys to the kingdom, but they will need certain things to get the ball rolling and be effective in their role. Let them know of anything relevant coming up such as product launches or brand events!
If you have an issue with your vendor, don’t let it fester. Tell them right away! The sooner they know, the sooner the problem can be fixed. An undisclosed problem has zero chance of being resolved. Transparency is key and builds trust. This goes a long way in fostering a great relationship with your vendor.
How would you like to be treated?
When you work with a client if they try to add on deliverables outside of what was agreed upon without paying for them, would you be happy? I know we wouldn’t be. How often would you work for free? Probably not very often, right? The fastest way to end a relationship with any vendor or employee is not paying them what they’re worth. Treat your vendors right, and chances are you’ll have a long-term, and fulfilling relationship for both parties.
Build a foundation of respect
Treat others how you would like to be treated. A concept that should be well known, as most of us have been told this since childhood. Treat your vendor with respect and professionalism. Build rapport. Carry aspects from other relationships that help build and maintain a strong foundation. An important aspect of respect is observing boundaries. Unless you have an on-call contract with your vendor, stick to business hours for correspondence. Try not to call, text, or send messages late at night. Sending an email is fine, but don’t expect a response that evening. Keep in mind time zone differences as well. Don’t be the P.I.T.A client!
Treat them as a long-term relationship
When starting a long-term relationship, would you if you knew it wouldn’t last? If your vendors start a relationship with you, they would like to see it continue. If you are changing vendors to save money, you most likely won’t be saving. You’ll end up spending more and losing quality by having to retrain a new vendor on your preferences instead of enhancing your relationship with your current vendor. If you find a vendor you like, stick with them! With any long-term relationship, communication is key. Effective communication will clear up misunderstandings, clarify expectations, and keep the relationship strong.
Don’t cheat on your vendor
It can be tempting to keep extra vendors in your back pocket. You reach out to a different one each time you have a need or even hire two at the same time! An example would be using two web designers at the same time. At first, you think it makes sense to get all the work done in half the time, right? Nope. What can happen is one web designer makes a change, and then the other web designer makes a change that undoes the first designer’s work unintentionally. You end up double, maybe tripling the workload because the work is being canceled out!
We respect your right to work with who you chose. Just know this can end up over-complicating things. It can also create animosity if the two parties don’t have clarity on their roles and why they are working together on the same project.
Understand the value of your vendor
You wouldn’t hire a veterinarian to design a logo! Consider that when you are requesting your vendor to do something, is it something they would do? If you hire a designer, it makes sense that they would expect to be designing. We know a freelancer who showed up to an event at a client’s request where they were asked to hang signs, banners, and balloon decorations for a political rally. Many vendors welcome the opportunity to diversify. Make sure you ask if it’s something that they can do and are willing to do. Be honest and upfront about what your needs are so your vendor can make an informed decision.
When it comes to working with small businesses, we’ve got that firsthand experience. DCA Virtual Business Support provides an expert pairing of administrative assistants and creative assistants for your business. We’ve got you covered! And, we blush a bit when we say this: we’re awesome at supporting small businesses! Would you like to learn more about how we can support your small business? Reach out to us.