Over ten years working in the construction industry has given us first-hand experience of both operating in a supply chain, and the importance of having great relationships with those around us. In fact, we are both supplier and client, so can speak directly of our experiences on either side. When done properly, a client-supplier relationship can be fulfilling, rewarding and profitable for all those involved. Equally, after some perhaps not-so-great experiences, we know how damaging and expensive it can be when things go slightly pear-shaped. We’d like to share the key activities that we think make for a great client-supplier relationship.
Start as you mean to go on
From the moment interaction begins, we believe that setting clear objectives of what is required helps set the tone for a long fruitful relationship.
Whether supplying clearly written proposals, providing timely and helpful information, conducting well-run site surveys for the installation of cameras or helping to write a creative brief for a new animated infographic project, the initial correspondence is key.
Setting clear goals and defined expectations means that both sides will know from the start what they are aiming to achieve, who’s responsible for what, and that both parties are on exactly the same page.
Maintain good relationships
Whilst sounding obvious, treating suppliers as part of the extended team goes a huge way to forging a truly beneficial and long term business relationship. It's the age-old adage: Communicate often and openly, and treat people how you would want to be treated yourself. Respecting a supplier for the expertise they bring can bring huge benefits - it’s why you chose them in the first place after all - and understanding you are both on the same side, working towards the same goal.
Ensure communication is consistent and clear
The nature of the construction industry means that there can be a lot of players working on one project, and sub-contractors and smaller suppliers can understandably often be left out of the loop when it comes to communication. This means passing on information at all stages of the process – not just when you think someone should know, which could be too late. Communicating an issue to suppliers in advance helps maintain a friendly working relationship whilst the project is running.
Praise publicly, criticise privately
'Praise publicly, criticise privately' as an old manager used to say - and it’s still sound advice that can be applied to company relationships. To show appreciation for a job well done and then give a supplier additional business because of excellent performance is a sure way to strengthen a relationship and engender long term loyalty. Equally, if you have to give a warning, allow the supplier the opportunity to correct the problem and demonstrate they have taken the criticism on board and acted accordingly.
…but sometimes, it just doesn’t work out
If, after warning about poor service, it still continues, then it’s about knowing when it is time to call it quits, move on and find a new supplier who can fulfil your requirements efficiently and effectively. Many businesses continue to work with failing suppliers due to loyalty and a long standing history - but sometimes, it's about knowing when to quit.
If a supplier has explained their service in depth, been available to discuss your needs and gone that extra mile, then show your commitment with big sales. Spreading business among many suppliers who offer similar products is counterproductive; no one is motivated to really push themselves, as it can seem the client is hedging their bets. We believe if you have the right company for the job, commit to them, use them... and reap the benefits.
Share the roadmap
What are the goals for your business? Do your suppliers know the plan? There is great insight to be gained in sharing what you want to achieve, both on a project and business level, as both parties will benefit from the understanding and knowledge of each other’s business, and can plan more effectively for success and growth. These go hand-in-hand. Any organisation needs to innovate to keep ahead of its field and maintain its competitive edge. Achieving this means it’s often necessary to trial and test new ideas and thinking, whether that be around products, services or processes. The key is not to be afraid of trying, nor of failing, taking small steps if necessary but from a position of trust. Success is often a win-win for both organisations, in both results for the client, and reputation for the supplier.
Would you like to know more?
We'd love to help you capture and monitor your construction, demolition, renewables, interior or fine art project. If you'd like to know more about how the installation process works, download our Implementation process infographic to find out just how easy it is to install time lapse on your project... in 10 easy steps.