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Make sure you review you customers and suppliers – not just your staff

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But reviews and appraisals shouldn’t just be about staff. Good practice is to re-assess absolutely everything on regular basis. It is 100 per cent true to say any business is only as good as its staff, but many of our good names rely on suppliers as well and how often do these get put under the spot light?

Approved supplier lists can be just as useful for a tiny business as a big one. It still helps every single member of staff to be able to order in times of absence, sickness or indeed memory loss of where to buy that vital widget. 

A properly run system can include regular reviews not just on price but on quality and reliability. It is no use getting the best price if the product never arrives. You can ensure that you have at least two or three suppliers listed so you are never caught out, never stuck to an unexpected price increase, never held to ransom due to lack of alternatives. On smaller suppliers, I have been surprised over the years on how many failed to be able to produce proper business insurance when asked. 

Most of all though – suppliers change. A brilliant reliable supplier last year may not be delivering this year. We are suffering exactly that at the moment from a major supplier who we have used for over a decade. It is sad to leave anyone after such a length of doing business, but when unreliability to you affects your customers there are only so many times that can be allowed.

And then there are the clients. It is extraordinarily easy to be sentimental about them, especially those who were your first wins in the early years. That sentimentality can be a very dangerous.

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It is easiest to see if you bear the recession years in mind – so many businesses have had to change and adapt to survive. A company which was once a top ten customer may now need hardly anything from you and, vice versa, some customer you have had little interest in before may actually be sitting on a hugely desirable pile of work.

Then recession or no recession there is the negative impacting customer. We all know them; they can include those who take up hugely disproportionate amounts of time to the return; the ones who are so rude that staff morale is immediately at an all time low; the unreasonable or the out and out liars over complaints in an effort to get you to pay out.

These are a minority but a dominant one. These all ruin your business for so many reasons but perhaps worst of all, as they are the ones at the forefront of everyone’s minds from the time and energy they sap, they can easily alter your staff’s perception of customers into a negative one. 

No one can afford to have any staff with a negative view of customers so clearly, along with non-functioning suppliers, this minority of negatively impacting customers need regular review and, if need be, disposing of. You wouldn’t keep a destructive member of staff, so you shouldn’t keep these customers or suppliers either.

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