by Dawn Vogelsang, president, for the Resolutions blog series
What types of work do you outsource? How long have you been doing business with the partners you outsource to? Think about your ad agency, image and data provider, IT firm, print vendor, market research company, etc. If you are like many businesses, you have long-standing partnerships that are on auto-pilot. Everything is working, so why mess with it, right? WRONG!
Now, I’m not suggesting that you need to change vendor partners, however, you owe it to them and to yourself to look at the relationship with a fresh set of eyes every so often. It’s a good idea to review partnerships on a regular basis for a couple reasons. One reason is because if something happens to the company you work with, you don’t want a substantial disruption to your business. Another is it’s smart to see what other companies with similar services offer.
Start by researching the market and find one or two other companies that provide the service you have decided to review. Use resources such as CHPA or NACDS to find other service partners in the industry. Review the service partner’s website or set up a 30-minute call to understand their services more thoroughly. Be upfront that you are not necessarily looking to change vendors, but perhaps during the conversation you will learn something that suggests change is a good idea.
Another reason to review existing partnerships is to determine if there is more you might be getting out of the relationship than you currently do. Your current vendor has probably changed dramatically over the years. Do you know what services they are selling to new customers? Do they have a new pricing model that you could benefit from? Have they had leadership changes that might take their company in a different direction? I suggest asking for a meeting. Make it clear that you are not simply asking for a “business review,” but rather would like your current partner to present to you as they would a new account. Oftentimes they have services that you didn’t realize they provide, or a new way of charging for their services that could either save you money, or streamline your payables process.
I recommend going through the vendor review process at least every two years or certainly when the contract comes up for renewal. Once you are satisfied you’ve done a thorough review you can decide whether you’re going to renew your current relationship or try a new service partner. If something does lead you to make a change, at least you know you have done your due diligence. And if you decide to stay with your current partner, your relationship will be stronger because you will fully realize the value they provide.