If you are running a small business one of the most crucial yet often overlooked aspects that often determines a successful business from a failed one is the small business’s relationship with its vendors- suppliers of the product, technology, information, etc. Going beyond simply the cost and quality of offerings which are of course important, there are a number of other key questions and elements to go over before signing a contract. Listed below are three difficult questions to ask any potential new vendors as a small business owner.
If necessary how does the termination process work?
It is always important to have a contingency plan and vendors just like employees need to be terminated for different reasons, it is important to know what if any ramifications there will be for terminating your contract with that particular vendor as well as information regarding what will happen to your businesses data, assets, and other proprietary collateral upon parting ways. While this may seem obvious, perhaps the greater point involved here is the importance of thoroughly understanding contracts and their potential outcomes before signing them into existence. Protecting the information of not only your business but your customers as well, a well-crafted contract with guaranteed protections can prove to be immensely cost-saving down the road.
Who will service the account?
As your main point of contact and the liaison between your business and the vendor/agency/company that you are working with the account manager is an important manager to know and have a solid professional relationship with. Before signing on with a new vendor it is vital to know who your possible account managers will be and what their subsequent pros and cons are. Once a decision on account manager has been decided or handed down they become a key advocate for your business and its needs as well as someone to sound off too in regards to any problems or complaints, in short, an account manager is a fixer who must be both gifted salespeople but also well versed in customer-service and problem-solving.
Just as you should be able to fully voice your concerns and suggestions to your vendor you should hope to attain constructive feedback and criticism as well as thoroughly analyzed suggestions and the retention rate at which they catch errors. For example if you’re buying digital signage as part of a your marketing efforts getting information about what if anything needs to be corrected and subsequently how to correct any issues that have come up.
Continuing with the digital signage example sending your vendor an image of your current signs and asking for feedback specifically ideas they suggest, issues that they see with your current design, and or what their response is to the digital signage as industry experts and frequent consumers. From there you can take their input and implement positive changes into your signs that catch more eyeballs and reach your target demographic thus bringing in more revenue.
Running a small-business is difficult but by asking tough, informed questions to vendors you can have quality results-driven relationships that see both sides thrive.