How do you treat your vendors?

Laura McFadden Consulting Blog (1)

In this site I normally focus on the interaction between the leader (manager) and the staff.  However, there is another component that I want to focus on today.  As a leader, we interact with several different people – staff, other executives, peers, and outside vendors.  The tough part is that staff is always watching.  They watch how you interact with other employees to gage how you might respond to their needs,  they watch how you interact with your peers to determine if you treat everyone in a similar fashion, and they watch how you interact with your vendors because those are the people that bring you services to help build the business and that ultimately are doing a similar job to what you expect from your staff.  Bottom line, your staff wants to know how you treat people.

So how you treat your vendors says volumes about how you really treat people.  Do you put them as priority, or do you leave them to sit in the waiting area until you feel like interacting with them?  Or worse yet, do you tell your staff to explain to the vendor you don’t have time for them today and not take the few minutes to personally talk with the vendor?

I’m not saying some vendors don’t act like pesky flies always buzzing around, and they seem to have the uncanny ability to show up at the most inconvenient times.  If, however, you have the motto that you treat everyone the same, wouldn’t it be important to “walk the talk” in this situation?  Remember, this vendor is doing the same job that you are asking your staff to do – listen to the client, try to find a product or service that will improve her life, and build a relationship.  You know how hard that job can be in a world where people are being sold to on all platforms and no one wants to hear it.

The next time a vendor stops by to say “hi”, think about your staff.  If a vendor calls you to prospect for future business, think about how your staff makes follow up calls to build relationships.  Know that your staff is watching to see how you treat that vendor – the person who is essentially doing the same job as your staff.  Instead of being frustrated, demonstrate that you understand how hard the job is, take a few minutes to chat with the vendor and make an appointment to have a more meaningful conversation in the future.  Your staff will appreciate knowing you treat everyone with the same gracious consideration.  It will go along way in building trust with your staff and maybe the vendor really can improve your business with the product he is selling.

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