The Client / Vendor Business Relationship

Client / Vendor Business RelationshipCurrently I am reading Things That Matter, by conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer. It is a compilation of articles the author has published over the last few decades covering a wide variety of subjects of greatest importance to him, and in his humble opinion, topics that also impact the general public.

The topics range from the personal to the political to the existential. Subjects range from his view of Winston Churchill as the single most important person to humanity in the last 100 years, to how and why the American Kennel Club is attempting (albeit inadvertently) to dumb down the most intelligent of canines, the Border Collie.

This book got me thinking — what are the things that matter most to me? I will save that for my first book. However, I would like to opine on a particular subject near and dear to my heart — and hopefully yours — things that matter in vendor/client relationships. Even if you are not a business person, you cannot avoid daily vendor/client relationships. Think about the coffee you just bought at Starbucks or the gas station attendant that filled up your car.

Some relationships are one-time events but many are not. And in business, vendor relationships are often long term in nature. Whether the vendor is supporting your HRIS system or cleans your office, business relationships typically span a number of years. Knowing that in advance, why is it that occasionally either the vendor OR client will still attempt to take some unfair advantage of the other party – even though animosity can and often will create lasting tensions beginning early in the partnership, yes, partnership? Hidden costs or product misrepresentation are common vendor transgressions. Unpaid invoices and new “scope creep” demands are just a few client offenses.

If ever there is need for a John Nash win-win scenario (for more on mathematician John Nash, watch the movie A Beautiful Mind), it should be in business relationships. Everyone wants to win; after all it’s human nature. But does winning mean someone has to lose? Again, not according to John Nash. It should not be a zero-sum game.

So here are my top 10 things that matter, or should matter, in the vendor client relationship:

  1. Professionalism — Each party respects the needs and concerns of the other
  2. Honesty — Bring out the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly up front
  3. Courtesy — Even when things may not be going 100% as planned, work together amicably to solve the issues
  4. Understanding — From the start, understand the full nature of the relationship
  5. Disposition — Maintain a friendly business relationship
  6. No Surprises — Bill Gates always insisted on getting bad news early
  7. Expectations — Endeavor to over achieve
  8. Communication — Keep each party well informed throughout the relationship
  9. Appreciation — Express thanks when warranted
  10. End on a High Note — All relationships eventually come to an end, so end them positively

That’s it. If these are things that matter to you in your business relationships, you will certainly develop mutually beneficial partnerships that deliver true win-win success to your organization.