Business & Technology Nexus

Dave Stephens on technology and business trends

Strategic Vendors

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Have you ever been wrong about a vendor? I know I have. We needed a new fence at the house, and I had it all figured out. I went with the guy with references, with the good communication, with all the answers, and… with the drinking problem. He never did finish the fence.

So on my next outdoor project (an arbor) I went back to a vendor I had looked over – one that wasn’t a big talker but, it turned out, certainly was a big do’er. It was 1-2 days and done, with fantastic quality. And now, here in Half Moon Bay, I can’t imagine using anyone else for future work. He’s a “strategic vendor” in my book.

Many of us never develop trusted sources for goods and services, except perhaps in a mass brand like “Sears & Roebuck”. And that’s just different.

I hear the same story time and again from neighbors and relatives. They negotiate hard every time they need work done, and as a consequence they never develop any long-term supplier relationships. I negotiate to be sure – but I also spend the time to get to know the folks who can get things done at good quality.

For example, I know a guy who rocks on any interior home remodeling project. So I called him and asked him what the market price was for refinishing hardwood flooring. It took him about an hour to get back to me with a range & with the 3 questions most important to ask. I needed to buy a mountain of slate – my trusted supplier tipped me off on how to save 2-3K on materials.

The point here is simple – developing relationships with your suppliers matters a lot. For smaller firms it’s absolutely critical. And even in our everyday personal lives, a few strategic vendors can make a big difference.

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Written by Dave Stephens

04/1/07 9:32 PM at 9:32 pm

Posted in Opinion

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