How to Build Vendor Relationships

Product development and production is a crucial stage in building a brand that can dictate where your brand sits in the market due to limitations or advantages in manufacturing.  Building relationships with your vendors can help save money and time and can allow room for dialog that can strengthen the end product. Here are three ways to build strong vendor relationships:

1. Get them excited about your brand.

For a brand, it’s often important to visit vendor’s showrooms or factories to source items and see how they can help launch your company, but it’s equally important for the vendor to see who they are working with.  Invite them into your workspace to introduce the brand and vision behind the people they are working with. Contactors and manufacturers want to be excited about their work and often share their new opportunities with industry leaders.  The more they know about you the more they can help you.

2. Establish Terms.

Building trust is key in any relationship.  When launching a new brand you may not have the quantities needed to negotiate payment terms or sometimes not even have the units to work with the vendors you are seeking out.  Walking into an introduction meeting prepared with a set payment process and defined roles can help manage the process and separate you from other start-up companies the vendor may have turned down.  There may even be responsibilities you can offer to split with the vendor like sourcing or ordering fabric and trims.

3. Thoughtful Referrals.

While some brands prefer to keep some of their key vendors private, referring business to your manufacturers can help build your relationship and show your loyalty.  Manufacturers need to average a certain capacity to keep their cut and sew lines going, and with less work it may be harder to maintain the staff needed to fulfill their orders.  Providing referrals with a like-minded work process can improve everyone’s work situation.

Related Reading:  Manufacturing 101: How To Get Started

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