1. Put your cards on the table
Communicate your business goals as they relate to your vendors. If you are striving to grow your catering business, the suppliers you choose should be on board with your vision. Give your vendors specific examples of your staff delivering exemplary service to your customers. They need to know you expect the same from them.
2. Get it all in writing
Document the agreed upon terms and conditions including delivery schedules and procedures, pricing policies, product quality expectations, communication methods, payment terms, ordering procedures, and backup plans.
3. Schedule update meetings
Pre-schedule periodic meetings to discuss progress, issues, and concerns. Update and document any revisions to the original agreement.
4. Communicate your perceptions
Be direct. If any of your expectations are not being met, let the vendor know. We all have had the frustrating experience of losing a customer, only to discover the reason(s) later. Our immediate thought is, “I wish they had let me know so that we could have corrected the issue.” Your vendors feel the same way. If there is a problem, tell them. There may be an easy solution.
5. Respect their guidelines
Place your orders on time. Meet the minimums. When they make a delivery, check it in promptly. Clearly, there are occasions when your vendor needs to be flexible, as you are with your customers. Just remember that they have ordering deadlines as well.
6. Be reasonable
Miscommunications, unforeseen circumstances, and mistakes are inevitable. Consider how some of your catering customers respond when they are affected by these situations. React to your vendors in the manner in which you appreciate being treated.
7. Demonstrate loyalty
If it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. When a vendor has worked hard and done a good job servicing your business, stay with them. When you are loyal to your vendor, especially after a mishap, they will inevitably return the goodwill.
8. Pay your bills on time
Paying your invoices on time is important. However, if circumstances necessitate a late payment, let them know as soon as possible. Your vendor will appreciate the information, as it may affect their financial obligations as well.