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30 Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode 88 / Building Better Vendor Relationships

On this episode of the Sew Much More Podcast: 30 Minutes with Workroom Tech, we welcome special guest Jayna Manzelli, owner of JM Custom Creations LLC and Raise Your Shade. We have a great discussion from the workroom and vendor perspectives. We had so much to share that this podcast is longer than 30 minutes.


You can listen to this episode here:


 

Review of basic business etiquette to best affect relationships with your vendors.

 

Setting up accounts

 

1) What you need

a. Resale certificate issued by State

b. Credit references for terms

c. Online access to ordering portals (if available)

i. Record and save your logins, passwords and PINs

 

Get to know your vendor (Placing an order)

 

1) How to get answers to your questions

a. Ask what communication style is best for your vendor

2) How to get your order right the first time!

a. Ask your vendor how best to place an order with them.  All are different.

b. Find out about the type/size of vendor

i. National supplier with huge warehouses, sales reps, etc

ii. Mid-sized regional business with employees, departments, specialists, but on a smaller scale than national suppliers

iii. Small business, solo entrepreneur wears many hats, lower overhead for better pricing

c. What kind of support can they offer?

i. Wholesale vs

ii. Retail

d. What products do they carry?

i. Not every distributor carries every manufacturer’s product

ii. Distributors are free to choose which products they would like to sell

iii. Special orders may be available upon request, but expect an extra fee since distributors must buy in minimum order quantities (MOQ)

 

Communications

 

1) Email

a. Use business writing style, or minimally, “business-lite”

b. Be courteous and polite, even when you have a grievance

c. Capital letters can be construed as yelling/shouting

d. Use bold or underline to emphasize

e. Limit use of exclamation points!!!

f. Avoid txt-ese:  LOL, OMG, etc

g. Add a line to your signature how to best contact you and/or when you will be checking email

h. Be cognisant that every email you send means time spent for someone on the other end.  More emails, more time, lesser efficiency producing, more delays getting your product to you

i. Be SUCCINCT–every one is busy

 

2) Texting

a. IMO, this should be the least used option in business

b. Suggests an instant response is expected

c. Can be disruptive to the message recipient, particularly if after normal business hours (where the recipient lives)

 

3) Phone

a. If vendor has a dedicated receptionist, phone is a great option

b. If vendor does not have a receptionist, phone calls can get missed

 

4) Other

a. Website “contact us” forms > email

b. Facebook/Instagram messaging–relies on someone being engaged in social media throughout the day for timely response

c. In general, refrain from using several contact methods re: same issue

i. For example, you call, get no answer so you leave a VM.  While the person is listening to your voicemail, you email.  While the person is answering your email, you text the same question/concern.   Three inputs for one output

1. While vendors are trying to reply to one input, getting more inputs is logistically difficult

2. So many messaging options can feel like getting hit from all sides

 

How to handle mistakes

 

1) Your mistake

a. Be honest, own it

b. Ask vendor to work with you to meet deadlines

c. Request expedited shipping (at your expense)

 

2) Vendor mistake

a. Be honest, own it

b. Ask vendor to work with you to meet deadlines

c. Request expedited shipping (at their expense)

 

Shipping–It’s not as easy as it seems

 

1) Shipping cost and how it is calculated

a. Commerce websites rely on algorithm calculations behind the scenes to figure shipping costs.

i. Depends on weight, dimensions of each item and the box sizes available.  

ii. If a mistake is made entering information about a product into the backside of the website, the software will not bundle into packing boxes correctly, causing more boxes that add to cost

b. Std carriers (up to 96”) vs freight LTL (oversized for std carriers)

c. Vendors usually have preferred carriers with negotiated rates and/or pickup options specific to their area

d. Questions or concerns related to pricing?  

i. Always communicate directly with your vendor before making online complaints in industry forums/groups

 

2) Products damaged in shipping

a. Be sure to open your packages immediately after receipt

i. Just because box exterior looks fine, contents may still be damaged, or

ii. Something may have been missed in the packing of your shipment.

iii. Whenever possible, save your vendors the need to expedite shipping a missed item.

b. Vendors may not have recourse with shipping companies months after the fact

c. Keep in mind that packages go through many hands, conveyor belts, hand trucks and vehicles before landing at your door

 

3) Keep in mind that packing materials are costly for your vendors.  

a. Boxes ($2-$15 each)

b. Tape/dispensers

c. Cushioning, bubble wrap, crushed paper, molded foam

d. Labor to wrap, pack, get labels ready

e. Space to hold all the packing materials that are needed to quickly and efficiently send you your items isn’t free

 

Supporting your Favorite Vendors

 

1) Share your experiences

a. With the company

b. With your peers

 

2) Social media best practices

a. Try to remain complementary (or neutral, at a minimum) in social media interactions

b. We need to be patient and protect our vendors so they can remain in business to serve us

 

Takeaways

 

1. Be patient, be kind, be courteous

2. Not every vendor is suitable for every customer

3. Just like workrooms, vendors are not obligated to take you on as a customer–GULP!

4. Remember that everyone is out there just trying to do their best

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