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Vendor Relations, Part 2

8 Tips to Sustaining Mutually Beneficial Vendor Relationships

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.

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].