By Amy Wong – President
It’s mid-afternoon at work and we are only four days away from launching a major project for a client. All is going well. We’re down to the wire, wrapping up final details, putting the final touches on some of our digital communication…
And then WHAM! This question comes from one of our team members: “Hey, I’m working on the e-newsletter and see that (NAME) is spelled two different ways. Which one is right?”
Of course, the misspelling is in a document that is already at the mail house and is due to be processed tomorrow. Everyone who had proofread the document missed the error – even the client.
So, what did we do? We called our trusted vendor and hoped for the best.
Fortunately, our vendor wasn’t very far in the mail merge portion of the mailing and shredded the letters with the error. They quickly provided us with a new proof and assurance that everything would go out on time. And they did it with an incredible sense of calmness that put us and the client at ease.
That’s what you get when you have a good (in this case, a great) vendor. (Thank you, Rapid Mailing Services. You always have our back.)
When our clients hire us to do their marketing and fundraising work, they are often hiring our vendors as well. So if a vendor fails, it reflects as poorly on us. Sometimes, it reflects even more poorly on us than the vendor because we have made a recommendation for our client to use them. And, when a vendor goes above and beyond to make something right, that bodes well for us, too.
Therefore, when we hire vendors at Dot Org, they must have the same commitment to service and quality that we do. We recognize that outstanding service and quality often come at a higher price. But to us, we are willing to pay our trusted vendors more for the peace of mind that our projects will be well taken care of.
In our business, cheaper isn’t always better. And a good vendor is worth its weight in gold.
You know you have a good vendor when…
They provide quality work.
You can have the best service in the world, but if the quality of your product is poor, it doesn’t matter. A good vendor must also produce quality work. Period.
They are there when you need them.
In our industry, we do the best we can to plan our projects far enough ahead of time in order to accommodate a variety of deadlines. But, there are always last-minute projects that crop up. A good vendor will work with you to help you make your short-term deadlines. Once you’ve established and nurtured partnerships with your vendors, you may even have opportunities for better pricing, payment terms and other benefits.
You can pick up the phone to call them– and they answer.
We can order so much online, but we can’t always talk to a human when doing so. There are times in our business where it is critical to talk through a project with a vendor, since much can be lost in translation via email or online chat. It is very comforting to know if you have a question (or a problem) that the person on the other end of the line has a familiar name and voice.
They are knowledgeable about their work, but don’t talk down to you if you don’t understand something.
We hire our vendors because they are knowledgeable about the business they are in and they stay up to date on trends, equipment, etc. in their particular industry. Good vendors are patient when explaining a process, a product or a service. They don’t look at questions as an imposition, but as an opportunity to educate their clients or customers.
They provide value that goes beyond the final product.
There is more to a product and service than just cost – and we look at our vendors as valuable parts of our team. We don’t just work with our vendors on client transactions. We often go to them for advice, referrals to other vendors and sometimes just to discuss trends in the industry.
They care more about fixing the problem than assigning blame.
My typo story is a prime example. Our vendor never asked how the problem occurred or who was responsible. They simply asked where the error was in the document and said they would get it handled. And they did.
They care about the success of your project.
Most of our vendors ask us about the end result of a project we have worked on with them. We try as often as possible to provide them with feedback. I believe that is because they care as much as we do about doing quality work. And they want to know how they can do their work better.
They are just good people.
I’ve made many long-term business relationships with vendors who are just great people. They ask how you are (and mean it), they are sympathetic when you have a challenge and are there to fix a problem when you need them.
Maybe I’m still a little old school when it comes to business, but I believe that having strong and personal vendor relationships has been an important factor in our success at Dot Org. There are lots of good vendors out there, and we appreciate each and every one we work with.