What if you knew what the next big thing will be for your industry? What if you could almost predict where your new market will be? Wouldn’t it be great if you could figure out, before your competition, what your current customers (and a few non-customers) would be looking for 6 months, a year or 2 years from now? Yeah. That would be valuable information.
Early Warning Signals
One thing I’ve watched happen in the many different industries (including the incentive industry more than once) is that we get caught flatfooted on many changes (big and small.) We spend so much time worrying about how we’ll make money this week, this month, this quarter – we forget to pay attention to how we will make money in 5 years or 3 years or even 2 years.
But I know one way to help mediate this issue.
Recognize your vendors. Yup. Your vendors.
Outside the Wall
Employee recognition has fast become the initiative of the week. My google alerts are constantly pinging with a new blog post or article about recognizing employees to reduce turnover, increase recruiting effectiveness, cure the common cold. Employee recognition is now standard. And, if you’ve paid any attention at all here on this site you know we are firmly in the “pro recognition” camp.
But many companies still ignore a critical reference point for business success. Vendor relationships.
The Evil That Provides Insight
Vendors should be considered part of your recognition ecosystem and should be evaluated and recognized regularly.
“But, vendors aren’t real people. They are there for us to beat up for price concession and take advantage of when the bar bill comes around. Why should we spend anytime recognizing them? They’re just a necessary evil – they’re just, well, vendors.”
Vendors Are People Too – and Smart Ones
Here’s why your vendors should be part of your recognition strategy...
- Many processes, products, sub-assemblies and services are being outsourced today. Companies are focusing on their “core competencies” and leaving the non-value add stuff to someone else (read “vendor”.) I’m sure you’ve got more vendors today than ever before. Your vendor performance is as critical to your success as your employees are. In fact – many vendors spend more time in you offices than your employees do. Keeping them focused on your goals and objectives is too important to leave to chance.
- Vendors work with other companies. They see what you don’t. They see what many others are doing. They are an early warning system for new applications and ideas. They are working on a variety of opportunities that are probably adjacent to what you do and can provide interesting information on what is going on the space you occupy.
- Vendors are people too. They will help those that help them. Treat them like crap – they probably won’t tell you a competitor is considering a new process or procedure that could shave millions off the cost of their service. Why should they? You’ve been taking advantage of them and treating them like a stray dog. They will simply let you continue to make mistakes, charge you for them and wield the specter of “out of scope” when the changes hit.
- You spent time and money doing the due diligence to find the smartest, best vendors (or for those enlighten companies – partners) to help you be successful. Why spend that energy to get the best and brightest working for you and then treat them like crap? Doesn’t make sense for employees –doesn’t make sense for vendors either.
- It’s the right thing to do. It’s just plain good manners my friend.
I’ve probably not spent as much time on vendor recognition and reward as I should. In fact one the largest engagements we did this year was all around how to best recognize vendors to drive future business.
Vendors Are Really Employees With W-9s Instead of W-2s
Vendors are a more important part of your business success than ever before and should be an active and important part of your recognition strategy. They will appreciate it – and when they appreciate you – they help you. Running an effective and visible vendor recognition and reward program will pay dividends for years to come.
So – next time when you meet with vendors for lunch or drinks – at least pick up the freakin’ tab.
It’s the right thing to do.