I will always remember the business colleagues who called me or showed up at my doorstep after my wife died. And the ones who flew in to attend the funeral. And those that I lean on for guidance and support when I need to make difficult decisions. None of them had to do it. It goes well beyond our vendor agreements.
So, why do they do it? It’s because they genuinely care. While talking to a few of them recently, I also learned that it’s because they have received so much from our relationship as well. Marco has helped them become better in business, too. It goes beyond the bottom line or even being their biggest customer. We’re partners.
The word “partner” can almost feel like an overused term that is sometimes used interchangeably with “vendor.” Not all vendors are true partners, and that’s OK. I prefer to reserve the word for those vendor relationships that are mutually beneficial. Hundreds of vendors support Marco as a business, but I’d only consider about a dozen of them “partners.” They’ve become trusted advisors and have a hand in making Marco a better business.
Sometimes we can take good vendor relationships for granted. At Marco, we recognize the importance of them. It’s one of the pillars of our Gold Standard and an area that we plan to focus more on this year. We want to be good customers. We also want to be good partners.
So, what makes a good partner?
- Deep and wide relationships in the organization.
Partners do not just have one or two connections in the organization. They build and maintain relationships beyond procurement. They invest time in your people and develop relationships across multiple areas of the organization.
- Trusted to look out for our best interests.
Every day, there are opportunities to build and diminish trust in a business relationship. While partners get paid for providing a specific product or service, they have greater value because they continually look out for what’s in the best interest of our organization. They are good advocates for our business personally and professionally.
- Respected by executive leadership.
Good partners are connected to the executive leadership team and respected for the value they bring to the organization. When they need something, they know they are going to get a timely response. When all things are equal, the leadership team will always err in their favor.
- Show up in unexpected ways.
Partners see their role beyond the contracted agreement. They show up when it counts. They care about us personally and support us during both the highs and lows. I wouldn’t think less of them if they didn’t, but it definitely is a lasting impression that solidifies our relationship when they do.
How many of your vendors earn the title “partner?” I’m grateful for the ones we have at Marco and the opportunity to help one another and be better together.