As a business owner, you have vendors. They might be parts suppliers or an outsource service who takes care of some aspect of your business, for example. Every business has vendors of some kind or another – from accountants to janitors, from mechanics to from marketers, from consultants to IT providers.
These companies take care of some aspect of your business for you so you can focus on the parts that you do best.
So people are always shocked when they read in my book Secrets Of Business Mastery about what some of my vendors have done to my business: No, it’s nothing bad. It’s actually pretty good but few people have ever heard of it happening before: My vendors meet together WITHOUT ME to discuss how they can improve my business.
That’s right – a selection of my vendors get together without me being there and they brainstorm what they can do for me.
The result: They apply their expertise in their specific areas of service and combine them together in brainstorming sessions and come up with ideas that I can use to grow my business. It’s win/win… I win because it’s a diverse team of experts who combine various aspects of business together and can come up with some powerful out-of-the-box ideas; they win because it often means more business for them.
Do your vendors get together and proactively discuss how to improve your business? Here are some ideas to help you get that going:
- Review your vendors. Are they playing at or above your level? Good! If not, you might need to find new vendors who are. Stretch yourself and stretch your vendors so everyone grows in the relationship.
- Share your vision with your vendors. Too often, service business owners only share with their vendors the piece of their business that matters to the vendor (such as: the financial targets with accountants and the marketing targets with marketers). But what happens if you share your greater vision with all your vendors?
- Treat your vendors as a team. Stop thinking of vendors as outsource partners who you reluctantly call and reluctantly pay. View them as essential members of your team, and experts in their particular area.
- Introduce your vendors to each other and make sure they are included in the conversation. Solicit feedback from others even if it doesn’t seem to be in the area that they typically specialize in – their perspective may surprise you and enhance the idea.
- Start the ball rolling by leading a regular meeting. Hold a conference call with multiple vendors with a very specific agenda. Invite their open sharing and discussion throughout the call.
- Ask vendors to meet to discuss something. You may need to give them specific ideas, and you also need to make sure that they have enough awareness of your business and visibility into it to have a competent discussion.
- Use their ideas as starting points. Just because they give you ideas doesn’t mean you have to use them. Position their proactive discussion as the jumping-off point. Some ideas won’t work, some won’t work right now, but some will be perfect and you can get them moving forward.
A team that proactively meets together is one that is bought into the ideas and will help you implement them. Get your vendors working for you!