How many times have you hired a new landscape vendor and then turned around the next year just to hire another?
Maybe it’s the bidding game or possibly the vendor did not do what was promised. Either way, we consistently find ourselves in what I call, the vendor carousel. Unfortunately, it’s a losing cycle.
Why do we keep putting ourselves through this headache year after year?
On January 15, 2015, I challenged the company and myself. The challenge was to stick with two landscaping vendors when buying equipment. One vendor was going to be my supplier of all small equipment (blowers, weed eaters, etc.) and the other vendor to supply all lawn mowers. The vendors also service their products for us. What I found out during this year of ups and downs is the process of molding a vendor to do exactly what you want, when you want is hard work!
At first, I was only a customer purchasing and having equipment serviced. I was neither vendor’s only customer, but for me I didn’t want to only buy equipment, I needed a strategic supplying partner that could recognize my needs before I could and help our company grow. I communicated this with each of the vendors. I told them they have my business, I trust in their product, and how can we make this a great relationship for the both of us?
Doing so challenged each of them to maximize my dollar and give me a better service at the same time.
What I found by the end of the year was amazing! One of the best examples of how this worked in our favor came to us out of the servicing of our equipment. The service guys of each vendor got to know each of my employees. With each service of the equipment the vendors gained insight as to how each crew treated their equipment.
This helped tremendously because each time that landscaping crew came in the service personnel would give them a crash course in what they could improve upon and how to “field fix” minor issues. Thus, helping us lower the amount of wear and tear on each piece of equipment and keep our crews running longer. With each new equipment purchase our vendors gave us information on unreleased promotions and equipment options.
All of our guys are being treated as family rather than just customers. We were even invited for a two night stay to tour the manufacturing plant of one vendor. I am honestly proud to say that we have even opened our budgets to these vendors to help us strategically plan how to maximize each portion of our purchasing for the year of 2016.
I challenge each of you to do the same. Look at your landscaping vendors as a partner.
Interview them, don’t just purchase purely from price. Know what you’re getting and be specific as to what you want out of the relationship. Let’s face it we are all in the same business of “Making money.” Partnering with the right vendors and developing those relationships is like having a separate set of 10+ market specific employees all working toward the same goal… “Making you more money!”