Do You Treat Your Vendors Like Human Beings?

What is your relationship with your vendors?  How comfortable would you be if the roles were suddenly switched, and your vendors were now your clients?   Are you squirming just a little bit?  Then your vendor treatment could probably use some work.

The Power Trip Trap

The truth is that even the most decent people tend to get caught up in the power trip associated with being “the client.”  This is especially true of individuals who work for prestigious firms or Fortune 500 companies with big budgets.  They get into the mindset that vendors should regularly bend over backwards, servicing to an often unreasonable extent because the vendors should feel lucky to have our business.

Examples of Bad Client Behavior

Bad client conduct includes things like skimping vendors on agreed-upon payments or expenses, expecting 24/7 availability from them while you are as responsive – or unresponsive – as you want, and using intimidation tactics to get your way.  It can also involve irritating behavior that’s more subtle, such as refusing to cut a vendor slack with respect to your incredibly confusing accounting process, or simply shrugging your shoulders and saying something to the effect:

“I’m sorry you had to eat 40 hours of unbillable time, but that’s your cost for working with us.”

Prepare for the Tables to Turn

This business world of ours is a fickle one, and you never know when you might really need your vendors.  After all, you hired them because they are the best at what they do, and this means that at some point they’re likely to hold some measure of power over you.  So, forget for a moment that you’re the one with the purse-strings and treat your vendors like the colleagues who work in the department down the hall, or better yet, like your managers.  You’ll establish an environment of mutual trust and respect that will lead to unbreakable workplace ties.

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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  • http://twitter.com/youcanmanage Ed Reynolds

    Couldn’t be more true! You find this out when you leave your position and go to work for the vendor. Sitting on the other side of the desk can be awful. Great advice!

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Thanks, Ed! I feel like this is a topic that isn’t discussed enough, and only becomes relevant to people AFTER they find themselves on the other side of the fence.

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  • http://blog.sysil.com Stanley Lee

    Timely article as a reminder of not bullying the vendor when you have the power to buy (Ed Reynolds mentioned about the consequences after).

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