As a business owner, you might have to rely on outside vendors to complete various services. It might be because you simply don’t have time to complete the task yourself, or it might be because you don’t possess the right skillset (after all, we can’t be experts in everything!). From design to consultant services, external vendors play an integral role in any company. When choosing a vendor, make sure they are qualified, experienced and validate their past successes. Would you hire an electrician to fix your toilet? No. Your vendor should be an expert in their field. 

In the initial stages of any professional relationship with an external provider, you have to start by building a strong foundation. While the vendor is completing the project, and even after the project is completed, a strong relationship with your vendor gives you the option to actively communicate and change the project to fit your vision if it isn’t up to the standards you’ve set for it. 

As someone looking to hire an outside vendor for your company, you might be wondering how you can be proactive in nurturing that strong relationship. In the following sections, we’ll explain how you can build a foundation that leads to successful communication and, more importantly, a fantastic end result. 

1. Respect their Work and Reputation. 

Your vendors are professionals who’ve worked hard to establish themselves as professionals and experts in their field. As a result, making changes to their finished product or services can have a detrimental impact on their reputation.

For example, you invest in a creative agency to build a brand and create a website for your company. You chose this vendor because of their expertise, branding and web design experience. After the project is completed, you attempt to rework some portions of your new website without consulting with the experts you invested in. You thought you could make the changes yourself. Unfortunately, those edits interfered with the entire website’s functionality, resulting in slower load times and disrupting the original design! 

While it might not severely impact your business, your potential customers may have to wait for your website to load and worse yet, see a disjointed design. This in turn will reflect poorly on the agency you hired. Especially if you credit the agency on your website. Functionality problems and inexperienced designers/developers will negatively impact their professional reputation since, in the end, you didn’t consult with the experts you hired. A consequence like this will result in a negative impression on both your company and the agency, meaning everyone suffers!

Prioritizing a healthy and communicative relationship with your vendors allows you to actively voice changes and alterations you want to make. Even better, the expert you’ve hired will be able to solve those problems for you and maintain the high professional standards they bring to the project. Let them provide you with the expertise you hired them for and avoid potentially harmful results for either party.

2. Develop Expectations Early and Communicate the Need for Changes Immediately

Tell your vendors what you want and expect straight out the gate. When timing is crucial, communicate that from the onset. If you’re disappointed in the service or products they deliver, let them know. Honesty is critical and constructive criticism can go a long way toward fixing a problem.

True professionals don’t mind feedback — both good and bad. Any outside freelancer, supplier, or vendor understands that you know your own business better than anyone. Because you know your own customer and target audience, it’s vital that you be happy and satisfied with your vendor’s deliverable. But it is important to remember that vendors (no matter how professional) are not mind readers, and they won’t know there’s a problem if you don’t communicate. However, once you’ve had a respectful discussion about the issue, your vendor can take the proper steps to provide a workable solution.

Be sure you establish expectations at the beginning — completely changing your requirements and deliverables half-way through the project changes the scope of work and can require additional costs. It’s best to put expectations and due dates in writing for your vendor. That way, you’re both on the same page, minimizing misunderstandings and unhappy surprises. 

3. Their Work is Important to Them

Agencies, vendors and suppliers all deeply care about their products and services. After all, that’s why they joined the industry they’re in and chose to share their work with your business!

Many vendors and suppliers are passionate about what they do. They’ve worked hard to hone their craft, and have spent their professional lives learning how to create the deliverables you need. Even if your initial expectations aren’t met when a vendor completes a project, any vendor will be happy to work with you and develop a plan to create the project that is tailored to your exact needs. As a business owner or operator, it is imperative you allow the vendor to finish the project themselves so they can ensure it is up to the professional standards they have set for themselves and is work they are proud of.

Ultimately, you just have to remember your vendor is a person. Value and treat them just the same as you would like to be treated. It works both ways. Respect, honesty, communication and clearly stated expectations all work together to create happy, valuable vendor relationships. This, in turn, will provide your business the deliverables it needs and potentially create a long-term professional relationship with a qualified vendor.