Standard of Excellence: How Strong Is Your Vendor Partnership?

For the past year, I’ve talked about various aspects of developing a great vendor-customer relationship with your printed circuit board fabricators, from trust to confidentiality and sharing the future. These are all good things to have in a true partnership. Now, it’s time to evaluate and decide just how great your partnership really is. Remember that a partnership is when two people or companies/organizations come together to do things that neither of them could do alone.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself when testing the strength of your current partnership with your vendor:

  1. Do you trust your vendor/partner implicitly? Do you share all of the information that you both need to do great things together?
  2. Is it an equal partnership? One old adage states that the person who has the gold makes the rules; does this apply in your case? If you are the one who has the gold and makes all of the rules, then you do not have a true partnership.
  3. Are you both willing to sacrifice independent gain for the sake of the partnership? For example, if your vendor partner finds a better solution for you, but one that could cost them some business, can you count on them to let you in on it for the good of the partnership? And are you ready to do the same?
  4. Will you both be there in times of trouble? If your partner is going through a difficult time, will you stand by them? Will you also do what you can to help them through it, even though it might not be good for your business in the short term, but will be worth it in the long term?
  5. Will you both keep confidential information confidential? This is incredibly important.
  6. Will you plan your future together, making sure that you are working on your partnership for the future as well as for today?
  7. Will you have the courage to share the direction of your company with your partner, even if it involves something that will hurt them in the end, such as a merger or acquisition that will put the partnership in jeopardy?
  8. Speaking of mergers and acquisitions, will you fight for your partnership if you are acquired by a larger company that does not appreciate your partnership enough to sustain it, putting you in the position of having to defend your ongoing partnership?
  9. Do you feel strong enough and trusting enough of each other to recommend bringing others in, even if it might jeopardize the partnership? Will your partner introduce you to one of their competitors if you need a special solution that they cannot provide? And will you recommend your vendor to one of your competitors if it will bring them more business? This represents the ultimate commitment to your partnership.
  10. Will you both be willing to share in expenses for a new project? For example, if one of your new projects demands that your vendor/partner buy some very expensive equipment that they cannot afford to buy at that time, would you help them buy it?

How did you do? If you were able to say that you both feel this way about each other and that you are willing to do these things for one another, then you can look each other in the eye and conclude that you have a very strong vendor-partner relationship.


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