July 27

Supplier Relationship Management: What Do Your Suppliers Think of You?


“The importance of being a good customer cannot be overstated, and asking for candid feedback can make a tremendous, positive difference in supply relationships,” says Lisa Arnseth, Insider Supply Management. It comes down to “asking tough questions and accepting tough answers.” How would you rate your relationships with your suppliers?

Supplier Relationship Management is Essential

Supplier relationship management (SRM) isn’t just a buzzword; it is an essential element of all successful supply chain management programs. Its goal is to increase your standing with your suppliers so they will provide you with preferential time, money, and resources to improve your hospital supply chain operations.

Think about it this way: Suppliers don’t treat all their customers equally. They have their favorites too! Suppliers can also be a source of competitive intelligence, quality control, and strategic planning since they are actually an extension of your supply chain management operations.

When I was in the supply chain trenches, I enjoyed most of my relationships with my suppliers. A valued few became irreplaceable resources for my healthcare supply chain department. They performed chores like expediting my back orders, investigating product failures, staging new equipment purchases, making deliveries at five in the morning, and even assembling carts that came to my loading dock broken down. I valued those strong relationships and reciprocated by making sure these valued few suppliers received a fair shot at all of my hospital’s business.

Ensure a Strong Relationship

One way to determine how you stand with your suppliers is to survey your top 25 suppliers annually to ensure that your relationship with them is strong, productive, and evolving over time. Then listen to what they are saying and take action to show them you are responsive to their suggestions. This is the surest way I know of to nurture and encourage a strong relationship with your suppliers.

Suppliers make choices every day on where they send their trucks, what goes on their trucks, which customer gets the first stop, and what customers are given the most support. It makes sense to me that you would want to be on top of your suppliers list for customer of the year award. This way you can obtain the preferential treatment from your suppliers that is only given to those whose supplier relationship management is not only strong, but growing every day, week, and month.

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