To create lasting partnerships with vendors, businesses must make sure their values and the vendors' align.
If there's a piece of information customers need on their favorite brand, chances are it's out there. From tangible facts like pricing to below-the-surface tidbits such as vendors and their internal cultures, customers can unearth anything if they have the resources.
By extension, vendors and their employees work for your company; it's a partnership. They buoy your day-to-day operations and are vital in everything from your brand's reputation to its bottom line. Consequently, because your vendor's performance affects yours, you owe it to the long-term health of your organization to study a vendor's company culture before determining to partner with it for the long term.
Remember, these vendors that supply your company's most vital software and services are more than contractual partners; they are part of your lifeblood. Switching vendors is costly, and hooking up with the wrong ones can be disastrous. When hiring and retaining vendors, decision-makers should stick with the ones whose values and practices align with their own.
Good vendors make good partners
Charity abounds among emerging, mission-driven companies. TOMS gives out free shoes, Warby Parker donates glasses, and so on. These businesses appeal to mission-motivated consumers and workers and get plenty of good press for the blending of their external and internal cultures.
A Deloitte study found that these mission-driven companies are 30 percent more innovative than counterparts and 40 percent more likely to retain key employees. Millennials played a key role in this shift, as their desires to positively affect their workplaces have changed the playing field dramatically.
Need proof? In a Glassdoor survey of Fortune 500 companies, 26 percent of respondents listed being part of a company with a positive work environment as a big plus. Mission-driven businesses stand out, even in crowded marketplaces, and they're the kind of vendors your company needs to link up with. It takes a little time, but when you focus on finding the right partner, you can grow and scale your business efficiently and effectively.
Find the right fit
Really, it makes perfect sense: If vendors care for their employees, they're apt to care for their partners. The next time you contemplate putting your faith in any new provider, use these three strategies to make sure you and your vendor fit like a glove.
1. Read its book.
You may be saying, "My vendor doesn't have a book," but it probably does: It's called its website, social profiles and other online information. You can learn tons from an "about us" page, or by sifting through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. Does the company have a vibrant, engaged workforce? Or is it staler than a week-old donut in the break room?
My company prefers working with vendors who not only understand our business model, but also make concerted efforts to keep our employees – and, by proxy, customers – happier. Happier people increase productivity anywhere from 12 to 20 percent, which can translate to up to 67 percent more in annual revenue improvements.
You should vote with your dollars by supporting organizations that treat people well. Before signing or re-signing a vendor contract, check the vendor out again to be certain it's maintaining a balanced approach that dovetails with your company.
2. Check its trophy case.
Accolades, honors and awards mean business. Seek out vendors with "best of" and "greatest places to work" tributes from reliable sources. Not only are these obvious signs of a growing workforce, but they also show that a company is getting noticed for the right reasons.
Look too for online evidence that their employees are committed and giving back. You may find that the faces behind your vendor have stories or trophies of their own to share.
3. Open the (Glass)door.
Yes, Glassdoor is mainly used by job seekers, but it's time for business leaders to utilize this platform to their advantages. These profiles contain a wealth of information and can change your opinion of a vendor.
After jettisoning the overly positive and negative reviews, spend time on the general feedback. Mission-driven businesses will shine through the rest. In no time, you'll be able to read about a company's culture and vision and determine what you're about to get into.
Your vendors are reflections of your brand, so make sure you tether your name to those who treat their employees as you treat yours. That way, you can be one big, financially secure family.