The relationship between you and your supplier is one of the biggest critical success factors in Facility Management. And so, you want to develop the best possible relationship with your supplier. Here’s 5 tips to optimize your supplier relationship management.
1. Communication is key
Well hello! Of course: an open communication between you and your supplier is very important. Research shows that suppliers will be more motivated to go the extra mile, when they get complimented every once in a while. Do not only point out the negative things in this relationship! Even though that’s a very easy thing to do… This open communication can prevent or solve missteps and eventually improve the delivered services by the supplier and creates mutual trust and respect.
Honesty can be brutal, but is a very crucial part of this open communication. If both you and the supplier are totally honest towards each other, both parties know what to expect and what to do.
This is also part of the ‘Customer Supplier Intimacy’. This strategy is often used to improve the loyalty between a company and a supplier. It does depend on the type of service: you will more likely go the extra mile with a supplier you work with every day, than a supplier you work with once a year of course.
2. Quality over price
Going for the cheapest supplier is not always what is best for the company. If the quality of the service is not what you expected, it is usually more expensive to fix it afterwards than taking the more expensive supplier in the first place. It is therefore important to hire a supplier you can trust and who you wánt to work with. Companies should find a supplier where they do not only feel comfortable with the price, but with the quality of the service too. You can do that by adjusting your selection criteria: not only weigh price but also non-monetary elements such as quality and way of working (!).
3. The easier the better
This may sound logical, but it goes deeper than that. The easier the supplier can do their job, the more you will benefit from it as well. Make sure that you enable them to do their work as well as they can – although they will also advise you on their needs. We see many organizations “het werk over de schutting gooien” as we say in Holland 😉 It’s like saying: great, your’e now taking care of this, good luck, see you later! Make sure to be involved in the transition period, provide the supplier with any access they need, make sure they are aware of crucial processes, and provide them with another very crucial element: technology. The use of a facility management system for example can be very useful. With a system like this you can keep track of notifications made by the end-users to that they can be fixed by the supplier shortly. It enables efficient working and efficient communication streams.
4. Contract represents relationship
Be aware of the relationship you have with your supplier. This should be reflected in the contract with the right tone of voice and agreements. This also depends on the product or service. An example: after an extensive selection process you have selected a supplier that will handle all facilities based on Integrated Facility Management. These types of contracts are long-term and extensively built on a relationship of trust and collaboration. It wouldn’t make sense to put an extremely detailed contract in place including the tasks that this supplier would be performing then, right? In a contract like this, parties work together very closely, and the contract should leave room for flexibility and initiative by the supplier to propose innovations and solutions.
It also works the other way around: when you are working with a supplier on an ad-hoc basis, you will not go through too much trouble to put together the most extensive contract ever.
5. Honor the contract
Even though it is not the most fun part of the job, evaluating the contract with the supplier is very important. Review the terms of your contract on a regular basis and do not only evaluate the delivered services and products from the supplier. You also need to review (operational) communication, staffing, or if the supplier is still satisfied with the terms of the contract. Give the supplier some space to speak from their own experiences and give them the opportunity to speak honestly. Give them the feeling that they are appreciated and can speak freely without any consequences. I know, sounds like captain obvious. But we’ve seen too many companies where evaluation cycles were only scheduled at the end of the contract term. However by then, no change can be made anymore.