The Two Way Street of Working Successfully with Vendors: Guest post by Chris Hanline

Posted on September 6, 2012 by

The success of your business is based on dozens of different factors. Don’t forget to take the time to bring the vendors most important to you into your network!

One of the most important aspects of attending any major trade show or convention is getting to know the vendors you work with most. I’m not talking about the services or products they offer, but getting to know them personally. This industry is built on relationships. In fact, WHCC many of the photographers I work closest with today are thanks to WHCC’s suggestions, one of them being Vicki Taufer when she was just getting started.

Your network needs to include every vendor who’s important to you. Every vendor in this industry is talking to hundreds of photographers every week. The experience they possess goes well beyond their products. It’s always best to meet them in person, but you don’t have to wait until the next convention – use the phone!

Another important aspect to this post is how you build your relationships with your own clients. As Chris writes, “…building and maintaining relationships are vital to any successful business.” Chris Hanline and the WHCC crew and I go back a lot of years and what I love most about this guest post is that everyone at WHCC practices what they preach.

”The glue that holds all relationships together — including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” Brian Tracy

Since our early days, WHCC worked on the principle that relationships are an important and central part of our business. Over the years, we’ve built strong relationships with both our longtime vendors, including Kodak and Hewlett-Packard, as well as many professional photographers who have become loyal clients.

Whether a professional lab or professional photographer, building and maintaining relationships are vital to any successful business. Through our own experience, we’ve discovered ways to build strong relationships with vendors over time. Photographers looking to work on their own relationships can look at the ways their relationships with vendors can impact their client relations as well.

1.Realize that price is not always the bottom line. One of the most important aspects of a vendor relationship is that there is more to working with a vendor than just the price. While cost should be taken into consideration, don’t let a price tag blind you from product selection. Instead, take a close look at whether or not a vendor carries products you want to offer your clients. There are inherent costs to handling and managing multiple vendors and moving around from vendor to vendor often only results in saving a few pennies. Instead, find ways to consolidate vendors by finding one who can provide a majority of the products you both need and want at an affordable price. The result will be a stronger relationship without the hassle of renegotiating contracts and prices.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask! When you stick with a few vendors for the products you need, there is more flexibility to ask to create new products later. We often reach out to our vendors and ask them to help us develop more products or update and refresh products over time. We want our customers to view us a one-stop-shop for all of their photography and business needs, and this helps us to achieve that goal. Be proactive and reach out to vendors directly and ask for new products that suit your own needs. This will save you time and energy of having to seek out alternative vendors as well as build a stronger rapport with your current ones.

3. Know the current trends and identify gaps. Pay attention to what clients are buying from both you and your competitors. Look for gaps in product options and be prepared to take action to expand your offerings to better grow your business. Stay ahead of the curve and anticipate the future needs and wants of your client base. Having a strong grasp on the market demand will also provide another opportunity to communicate your findings back to vendors to ensure they too have the most up-to-date selection for you to pass onto clients. Working with vendors who are tuned in to what customers want will allow for you to focus on selling products more effectively.

4. Find a partner who cares about quality as much as your business does. While having a broad range of products is important for business growth, quality products will mean more for your business than a vast quantity. Think about what matters most to you in terms of quality: great customer service, on-time production and shipping, excellent print quality, and well-constructed and innovative products that set you apart and help grow your business. Working with vendors who value quality as much as you do will reflect on your business and result in better relationships with your own clients.

Building relationships with vendors takes time, but it is an important part of growing your business. Know what is important to your business and find vendors that have similar qualities and mission – it can make for a more meaningful business strategy and a better bottom line. Chris Hanline, WHCC

Photo Credit: © Rafter | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Posted in: Advice