Taking Vendor Relationships to the Next Level

Vendor to Partners

On of the strategic investments we made last year was to join HTG Peer Groups, a firm that facilitates peer meetings for IT service companies.  Patrick and I met with the leaders of other companies four times last year, and gained great value in the process.  We’re excited to do so again in 2017!

The Importance of Strong Vendor Relationships

HTG has reinforced something one of my original mentors shared many years ago – the importance of strong vendor relationships. They have encouraged Howard Tech to consolidate our supplier list, and go deeper with a smaller list of partners.  This focus helps us get better support, training and more than we could achieve if we were less intentional.  The companies we’ve chosen to provide monitoring, backup, antivirus, and other products are critical to our success.  Like all relationships, we have problems from time to time, but the depth we’ve developed makes it easier to work through the issues that arise.  I can’t imagine doing things as we did in the past.

Ask Yourself: How are you doing with your vendors?

Are they firms you simply buy things from? Or are these companies that you have carefully chosen to partner with to help your company grow? I understand not every relationship is the same, and some vendors bring more strategic value to you than others. It is at least worth reviewing if and how you could strengthen important supplier relationships.

Utilize Your Resources

Are you fully leveraging the value you can get from each partner? It’s easy to see the banker or attorney or accountant as strategic while discounting others, but that seems a mistake. You should consider if there is additional training, support or resources these vendors have which you might take advantage of.  For example, some of your vendors may offer free webinars that you and your team could use to maximize your use of their products. Others may have LinkedIn groups or forums for not only troubleshooting, but also networking with other similar organizations. Here’s an easy to read article which outlines 6 steps to optimize vendor relationships.

How is Howard Tech doing on the partnership front?

Are we the team to you call when something is broken, or are we helping you with thinking about and planning for the future?  Our service offering is the same for all clients, but we feel that some companies get much more value from us than others do.  One of our key goals for 2017 is to do regular business reviews with our clients so we can bring more strategic value than we have previously.

Let us know your thoughts on this, and we’d love to work with you to move from vendor to true partner this year.