If you’re a new entrepreneur or current small business owner, you can easily get overwhelmed. The amount of information coming to you and the demands on your time and resources can be quite taxing.
One thing that will help you as a business owner is cultivating relationships. And not only with your customers—with your supply chain contacts too.
Cultivating relationships with your supply chain vendors is crucial to keeping your costs low and optimizing the flow of goods. Here’;s a few links along the chain where you’ll want to cultivate and maintain a good relationship.
One of the first steps—literally—is building relationships with your material producers or suppliers. There are lots of thoughts on how to do this, but it boils down to having a vetting process in place for your suppliers. Try creating a standard metric for yourself and then rating current or potential suppliers against the metric. If you don’t agree with the supplier’s core values, for instance, evaluate how that may impact your ability to do business together. How competent is this supplier? How do the supplier’s prices compare to other suppliers?
Asking critical questions like these and holding your suppliers to your business standards will go a long way in cultivating a healthy relationship.
Trucking and Transportation
It’s also essential to build relationships with your logistics carriers, or trucking and transportation companies. Forming a relationship with these companies builds trust and can help you make better logistical decisions. Some tips are to spend time face-to-face (or at least screen-to-screen). Learn how to best communicate with your transportation company and be flexible to their needs as well as the demands of the market.
Learning more about the company will also help you with knowing what questions to ask. Trucking insurance, for example. Most companies carry standard trucking insurance, with the possibility to increase that amount. Which option is best for you and your business? Your trucking company can probably help answer that question.
Warehouses and Distribution Centers
You will probably also want to develop relationships with your warehouse and/or distribution center contacts. One of the best ways to do this is to learn and be aware of warehouse schedules and processes. Knowing your warehouse’s procedures can help you communicate with your trucking companies and help keep all the logistics running smoothly.
It’s also important to keep in mind that cultivating supply chain relationships is a lot like cultivating coworkers or any business partner relationship. Be nice. Be thoughtful. Listen to the person. Do what you can to try and meet their needs. Following these basic principals will go a long way in creating a successful supply chain for your business.
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