Your reputation as a food distributor depends on your ability to deliver a breadth of quality products — which need to reach the shelves in a timely manner consistently, complete with all necessary documentation — for the right price. Phew! That’s easier said than done, but the good news is that it primarily comes down to the strength of your supplier relationships — something that’s well within your control.
The truth is, you simply can’t afford breakdowns in communication because even minor interruptions in your operations can bring the flow of goods to a halt. The key takeaway? The better your supplier relationships, the more likely you’ll be able to solve problems, innovate, and optimize for success.
How Does Supplier Relationship Management Fit into My SQM Strategy?
Supplier relationship management (SRM) is a key part of your overall supplier quality management (SQM) strategy. The excellent working relationships you develop not only encourage collaboration between you and your suppliers, but it also creates a shared sense of investment in the final outcome, ultimately helping ensure quality products are delivered in a timely manner.
3 Key Supplier Relationship Management Strategies
SRM may involve human relationships, which we all know can be complicated, but approaching it in a strategic way can help you produce a working environment that’s positive for your suppliers — and, in turn, your company.
Focusing on preventing problems, instead of doing repairs, can help set the scene for a stable and communicative workplace. So instead of reacting to situations, aim to be proactive and promote collaboration from the get-go. Instead of quick fixes, establish long-term goals that keep you focused on the bigger picture.
To maintain seamless operations and protect your brand, follow these three supplier relationship management strategies:
1. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
You’d be hard-pressed to find any management manual that doesn’t stress good communication — and it’s no less important for SRM. The secret to your success is taking a proactive approach. It’s one thing to tell your suppliers that your door is always open and another to reach out to them with important messages. For example, make sure that you communicate new and updated standards or requirements before your suppliers find out the hard way. Consider starting a periodic newsletter that includes information relevant to your partnership. By thinking strategically, you can gain supplier buy-in and strengthen your relationships.
2. Create a Collaborative Culture
Most businesses are hierarchies — but, with effective management, they can foster a truly collaborative culture, both with their employees and their partners. Recognize that your suppliers are important business partners — and treat them as such. Set the tone for respectful and trusting relations. This includes paying them on time, acting to resolve problems and remediation quickly and efficiently, and maintaining enough good will to encourage accountability.
3. Streamline Your Processes
One of the long-standing challenges facing SQM professionals is the sheer amount and variety of documents that need to be stored, organized, and maintained. Many managers struggle with a system that’s been pulled together over time, with important data hiding in emails, spreadsheets, and even paper files. This is difficult enough when the system is of your own making, but it’s downright impossible when it’s not. To reduce costly errors and delays while keeping your suppliers happy, consider adopting a technological solution, such as quality management software, that streamlines your SQM program.
Your supplier relationships are key to your business’ success. Putting a bit of forethought into your working culture, how you manage lines of communication, and the best tools for the job will encourage a positive and fruitful outcome for everyone involved.
RizePoint offers quality management software that empowers people just like you collect, organize, and manage data around your quality assurance and supplier quality management programs. Click —> here to request a free demo today.