They will be there for you when you need them. When your client makes an impossible request or you make a big mistake, having a vendor who will go above and beyond to save your butt and make you look good in the process is invaluable.
They’ll tell you what you really look like in those jeans. If your printing specs are wrong, if your food selection is off, a good vendor will let you know.
A good vendor relationship shouldn't be one-sided. Vendors like to feel appreciated and recognized for their good work. Let them know how awesome they are. Send them an email thanking them for their good work or provide a client testimonial to help promote their business.
Say yes to their invitation. No person likes a friend who only talks about themselves. Take time out to listen to a vendor pitch their latest service offerings or say yes when they invite you to attend their food tasting. Some account execs need to report their client building efforts, so you can help them look good to their boss.
Give them the scoop. It is preferable to work with a vendor you know and feel confident in dealing with, than one who simply provides the cheapest bid. So when comparing quotes, see if your preferred vendor can match or at least come close to the lowest bid. They may not be able to do so on all jobs, but it will be worth the time and frustration in the end.
Be selective with who you introduce them to. Just because they’re a business, doesn’t mean you should pass their contact information on to any and everyone. Be selective. No one wants a difficult client and a bad referral can do just as much damage to your relationship as if you’re the one causing all the trouble.
Give them the benefit of the doubt. No one is perfect and sometimes a job goes wrong. Unless you lost millions or the mistake caused you your biggest client, try to keep things in perspective. If the relationship is work salvaging, discuss with the vendor what occurred and give them a chance to fix the mistake, acknowledge their part and/or find a solution to prevent the issue from occurring again.
It’s not you, it’s me. If you need to take a break from a long-standing relationship with a vendor for whatever reason, be open and honest about it. Don’t just stop taking their phone calls or responding to their emails. If it’s due to negligence, bad customer service, inflated pricing, let them know so they can work on it with their remaining clients. Being upfront about it leaves the door open for reconnecting in the future if circumstances shift.
The way you work with vendors can make a huge difference in your ability to get your job done. Not every vendor is a good vendor, so when you find one with reasonable rates, good customer service and effective project management skills, take time to foster your relationship. So at the end of the day, you can both say, “Happy doing business with you.”