February 26, 2019
How to Grow and Build Strong Vendor Relationships
The property business is customer-focused. Keeping tenants and owners happy often comes down to improving the quality of life and value of the property. And, it’s your vendors that help you do both. They’re the ones that fix electrical issues, apply a fresh coat of paint and keep the grounds looking good. They’re the ones that often have direct contact with your tenants. In short, they become a part of your brand and your customer experience.
That’s why putting time and effort into building strong vendor relationships is an investment in your business and your future. Here are some proven ways to ensure you’re building foundations for long-term vendor partnerships.
Play the Long Game
Any partnership that doesn’t value long-term relationships is in jeopardy. Move away from hiring providers for one-off jobs and instead look for a trusted team of vendors. It is difficult to have “special” relationships if you have a lot of different vendors providing the same services. A smaller curated list allows you to achieve a few things:
- Spend more money with each vendor
- Get better contract terms
- Build a stronger relationship
This doesn’t mean that you need a single vendor for each service – it’s always good to have an additional supplier or two in your vendor portfolio for a little healthy competition and backup – but it is much easier to build better vendor relationships if you focus on a few companies.
Have Clear Rules of Engagement
Set expectations and performance guidelines at the very beginning of the relationship. And, then revisit and report on them periodically. When both parties know exactly what is expected and by when, the odds of a successful project and partnership instantly increase.
Open Communication is Key
Regular contact with vendors isn’t always the same thing as good communication. In addition to the back-and-forth concerning various jobs, encourage periodic check-ins with key vendors, a few times a year. Get their feedback on how things – the relationship, processes, the property, etc – might be changed or improved. And, really listen to the answers; good vendor management involves being open to feedback and change. This way you can identify and potential problems before they turn into BIG problems and keep tabs on how the relationship is developing.
And, don’t forget an annual in-person might be an optional choice to connect face-to-face and continue to strengthen the relationship. Either way, keeping an open channel of communication between the vendor and encourages easy access and collaboration for ongoing problem-solving, providing feedback, and sharing new ideas or opportunities.
Work as a Team
Treat your vendors as an extension of your property management team. Because, quite simply, that’s exactly what they are. This can enhance work performance and build a successful, seamless relationship. Working as a team brings individual perspectives, the ability to solve complex problems, and to create new solutions and ideas. When you can tap into their expertise, it will give you a competitive edge as projects are completed more quickly, and your tenants are more satisfied that was done.
Invest in Vendor Relationship Management Software
Vendor software is an amazing tool to grow stronger relationships. It gives you the ability to set up your preferred vendors and see all details, like payment terms. You can instantly select and pay invoices. You can also instantly turn work orders into purchase orders and then match those POs to the invoice. With a portal for communication, you can easily monitor what is happening and track progress on work orders.
To keep tabs on vendor quality, the vendor relationship management software will also allow tenants to rate the quality of any repairs done to their unit. If you have several incidents on unsatisfactory work/quality, you will need to communicate to and remind the vendor about your standards.
Know When to Call It a Day
Not every relationship has to be nurtured and strengthened. While minor misunderstandings can be an opportunity to improve the relationship, if you are running into consistent challenges (not completing work on time, etc.) maybe it’s time to find a new supplier. Sometimes cutting off ties with a company is in the best interest of your property, the owners and your tenants.
How We Help
Are you looking for a vendor management system that allows you to reduce paperwork, centralize communication and track your maintenance requests and property inspections more easily? Property Vista has robust vendor relationship management software that will help you grow and build relationships with your vendors. Check out our pricing and get a demo here.