Essential to the operations of any business is the quality of its relationships and some of the most important, yet often discounted, are vendor (supplier) relationships. As a marketer, or other business leader, it’s normal to rely on these outside partners for their involvement in the implementation and management of everyday operations, campaigns, launches or problem-solving.

Check out these five tips for creating efficient, long term partnerships with your vendors.

Understand their business and the cost of doing business.

Before committing or signing an agreement, and to better understand their values and priorities, a working knowledge of a suppliers’ operating procedures, service offerings and fees or billing practices is important. This will keep you from paying for services you don’t need and help to ensure the services you do use are being tapped to their fullest potential. Also, verify details like auto-renewal dates and the risk of possible add-on fees or service charges. Lastly, in some situations, your supplier will be expected to function as a seamless extension of your team, confirm expectations and discuss how these services will be executed.

Be transparent about your business priorities

Confirm with your vendors that they recognize your business needs and priorities. When vendors understand your expectations, managing them is easier during the ups and downs of business. Inform and educate them on the information they’ll need to manage your account, such as times when your business may require an increase (or decrease) in the level of service or supplies based on seasonal surges, product launches, industry challenges, promotional campaigns, process changes or expansion.

Invite your account rep to provide input on your strategic planning on processes relating to their service. Incorporating their help and experience can be a valuable resource for your business. Incorporating your vendor’s first-hand experience and working knowledge will give you insight and demonstrate how their services can provide the most benefit for your business.

Manage performance

Track the spend and services provided by each of your vendors. While you may be satisfied with your vendor program, it is essential to track how well each vendor is meeting their contract terms. Make sure your vendor consistently provides quality services, corrects issues in a timely manner, meets delivery times and is available and able to help during business emergencies.

Consider using a supplier management softwaresuch as Gearbox from Iris.  By actively managing and evaluating the performance or your portfolio of vendors, you’ll discover the volume of business you do with each of them and will likely uncover opportunities for budget and process efficiencies


The quickest way to grow or damage a relationship is communication, and this is especially true in vendor management. Communication is key to avoiding mistakes, meeting timelines, troubleshooting problems and identifying contingency plans. By sharing critical information with your partners and avoiding assumptions, everyone can be successful. Make sure you have a designated point of contact for your vendors whether that’s a vendor portal or primary point of contact (or both!).

Along the way, encourage open discussions, ask for feedback and seek process improvement. Maintaining an open line of communication will help to form a long-lasting, trusted partnership.

Coordinate between vendors

It’s typical for teams, their projects and even their customers to require the expertise or collaboration of multiple vendors to meet a business objective or to execute strategy. By providing a common system or mutual platform like IRIS’ GearBox®, you help streamline processes, facilitate communication and better equip and enable both your suppliers and your internal team to get the job done.

IRIS is here to help you with tools and resources that will transform and actively manage your vendor relationships. Reach out today, 913-749-4100 or We’re ready when you are.