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Cathy's Coaching Corner: Four Steps to Building Strong Vendor Relationships

Cathy's Coaching Corner: Four Steps to Building Strong Vendor Relationships

Young entrepreneur with notebook and smart phone in hand.Image by Antoni Shkraba on Pexels

Good relationships thrive when we nurture them, and this is true for business relationships, too. Your efforts with marketing and shopper-centric service constantly grow your customer relationships. While customers are primary to business success, there are relationships in the background that are equally as important. This month I want you to invest time to develop vendor relationships. 

Spend time and energy building the relationships you have with vendors. Without vendor relationships you can’t serve your customers.

With supply chain issues and staff shortages ongoing, you may be experiencing regular disruptions. Having vendors that will go the extra mile for your business will help you outshine the competitor. Take these steps to build strong vendor relationships.

  1. Know their name. An etiquette rule to follow with all vendor relationships is to know their name. Not just their company or job title, but the full name of your contact. Learn whether it’s Samantha or Sam and greet them personally in conversation and email. Ask them about their weekend plans and follow up the next time you talk. Show that you are personally invested in them, not just the service they provide you. 

  2. Talk to them during the good times. You and your vendor will be more relaxed with one another when you have regular contact during times business is running smoothly. When problems arise, as they will, it will be easier to have the harder conversations because you’ll have a strong communication pattern established to rely on as you work through issues together. 

  3. Don’t just complain; respectfully discuss issues.  No one likes having a relationship with someone who complains constantly. To build a strong vendor partnership, avoid ruminating and passive aggressive comments. When issues arise, contact your vendor directly and immediately address the situation. Clearly communicate your business needs and how you want to work together to find mutual resolution. 

  4. Thanks and small gifts go a long way. Don’t let good intentions keep you from actually writing and sending a thank you note or small gift of appreciation. Schedule time to regularly review your vendor interactions and acknowledge when they have been a good partner for your business.  Notice when they go the extra mile for you and put your thanks in writing. 

Take action now to focus on your vendor relationships. By investing time in your vendor relationships you ensure they are strong and productive for both businesses. 

 👉 Share what you may already be doing to thank your vendors or post a few of your favorite gift ideas in the comments!

Find more small business resources in the WISe Business Member Hub.

Book a one-hour business coaching session with Cathy here.

Cathy Lindemann is President of Evolution Creative Solutions and on the Steering Committee for WBENC Ohio River Valley and Founding Member of WISe Wellness Guild. Cathy specializes in helping small businesses become "unstuck" for immediate growth and supporting strategic growth through WISe partnerships. Follow Cathy on Instagram @lindemanncathy, or connect with Cathy on LinkedIn at

Professional Headshot of Cathy Lindemann

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