An ideal relationship with your vendor should be a partnership, not a dictatorship. Instead of prioritizing price points, consider the value that quality and service bring to these partnerships. It should be your company’s goal to develop and sustain the work that you do with vendors that bring you the best service at the highest quality, instead of tossing them aside for businesses that work to undercut their competitors only to deliver a subpar service.
In my past I sold packaging products such as boxes, bubble wrap and packaging tapes. I definitely wasn’t the least expensive, but I knew that I delivered the best service at the highest quality. Knowing in my gut that the quality of my service was top notch brought value to my work, and allowed me to avoid concerns about the fact that I couldn’t price my service as low as some of my competitors.
During that time I had the absolute best printing plate vendor in the industry, whose name was Andy. If you aren’t familiar, think of the printing plate as a big rubber stamp that stamps boxes with a logo. He was so candid with me and treated me so well that sometimes he would knowingly even talk me out of using his services.
One day, Andy’s competitor called me and undercut him by 30%. I called up Andy to discuss, and he responded “Gregg, they’re just doing that to earn your business. I can cut my prices by 20%, but that is my entire margin and I can only do it on this one order.” I trusted Andy, and knew that what he was telling me was true because he had never lied to me about pricing in the past.
I let Andy know that I would get back to him, as I needed time to think about it overnight. After sleeping on it, I thought, “I would be the biggest hypocrite in the world NOT to go with Andy. I take immense pride in the shared values we have, and it is wrong of me to then ditch him the moment I find somebody who will quote me lower.”
After this realization I called Andy and said, “Andy, you’ve really been incredible to work with, and I can’t thank you enough for that. I would like to stick with you, and I have no intentions of switching my business anytime in the near future.”
He was really happy to hear that I felt this way, and responded, “Great, and thank you for your business! I’ll send you the quote and give you the 20% discount.” I knew that this wasn’t easy for him to do, so I replied, “No. I don’t want the discount. I pride myself on being the highest quality and having the best service, not the lowest price.” Andy was shocked to hear me say this, and thanked me five times.
It’s this experience that taught me the importance of treating vendors like partners. Once an honest and effective business relationship takes root, and when the service is great and the highest quality available, it is important to nourish those relationships and not throw them away at the first sign of a cheaper service. Almost every time, I have purchased solely based off price, it has resulted in issues, which ended up costing me a lot more because I lost an incredible amount of time fixing the issue.