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Vendor Relations, part 1

Have you ever received a call from a customer saying what a great job one of your employees does for them? The customer is complimenting both the employee and your business. An “atta boy” out of the blue has a tremendous positive effect on the employee and company receiving it.

It is very easy to instill that feeling of goodwill toward your suppliers as well. Try this at the end of the year. Make a list of the delivery representatives who come to your business throughout the year. Decide upon those who really deserve some recognition. If you need help, ask the members of your staff who interact with them for their opinions as well. Then write at least one feedback letter or more, if warranted, to their supervisor.

If a vendor knows that a customer is checking their weights (which most companies do not) the scales will always tip in your favor.

Negotiate better pricing

Does this ever happen? A regular customer calls and says, “Our standing weekly order for 20 people is doubling to 40 people. My boss wants to know if we can get breakfast (currently $10 a head) and lunch (currently $15 a head) discounted?” Nine times out of 10, the answer is “yes” — usually it amounts to a 10% discount.

Why are they getting a discount? Because they asked.

Does this mean that every time someone asks for a discount they are going to receive one? No. Multiple factors are taken into consideration. In this scenario, a $10 per person breakfast is discounted to $9, and the $15 per person lunch to $13.50.

By asking, they are saving $2.50 per person (at 40 people = $125 per week or $5,000 per year).

The same works in the other direction (sometimes). You are a customer to your vendors and hopefully a very good customer to some. You will be in a good position to ask for better pricing if you have done the following:

• You order regularly.

• You have been a loyal customer.

• You pay your bills on time.

• You are courteous on the phone when placing orders.

• You are respectful of the delivery drivers.

So, if your customers occasionally ask about better pricing and often receive it, doesn’t it stand to reason that you could do the same with your vendors?

Bottom line

Keep as close of an eye on what you are paying for your products as you do on the sales your products and services are generating. Reviewing this consistently and diligently does require time. If you are in a position to have an employee do this as part of their job description, or perhaps help you with it, do it. It is that important.

Michael Rosman is the CEO of If you need more tips, please visit his website or email him.

Michael Rosman

Michael Rosman

Owner/Founder, The Corporate Caterer, Boston, MA

Michael Rosman is the founder of, a consulting, coaching and lead generation company for businesses that aspire to take their corporate catering business to the next level or start a new division. He is also a Senior Consultant with He can be reached at [email protected].