In the business world, everyone talks about customer loyalty and the importance of taking care of them. (In fact, I wrote an entire book on the subject.) We discuss loyalty programs, gift-giving, and customer service techniques to keep our customers and make ourselves be at the forefront of their minds. But what about our vendors?
Vendor loyalty is absolutely a thing and should be just as important as customer loyalty. So what does that mean, and what does that look like?
Vendor loyalty is when we show devotion and adherence to our vendors. We work with them diligently and make sure they know that they’re appreciated. We keep them informed on our business needs, make payments in a timely manner, and go directly to that vendor when a need arises.
This type of relationship is important for a few reasons. First, it often creates prime service. Think of it this way: if a customer goes to a bar on a regular basis, even asking for the same bartender, that customer is going to get special service that not everyone else receives. The bartender may make better drinks, talk with the customer longer, and make sure he is always taken care of quickly. It doesn’t mean that other customers get bad service; it just means that loyal customers get the best service possible.
Second, it creates a sense of trust. When something goes wrong, a customer with a strong relationship can often come to the vendor with the issue and it be taken care of. Even with payments, a customer is more likely to receive leeway when needed if the vendor knows that the customer is trustworthy.
Third, it creates a bond. Customers with strong vendor loyalty can get early notices of sales and sometimes get discounts. Salespeople will go out their way to make sure that loyal customers know about anything that can help upcoming events, while also being close enough to check in on how the customer is doing. Sometimes you’ll even have a vendor that will hand deliver orders in an effort to show their own loyalty to you.
If you don’t have this type of relationship with your vendors, do an evaluation. Decide which vendors have provided the best customer service for you and who has helped the most in times of need – and then stick with them. Show them that you value the service they provide. Turn to them first when a project comes up, allowing them to quote you (even if you go to others for quotes, as well). Give reviews, tell your friends, and create a relationship that truly means something to both of you.