The Importance of Supplier Engagement

Posted on December 27, 2010 by Don MacPherson.

During a recent trip to Serbia, I witnessed how critical it can be to create partnerships with your suppliers, not simply transactional interactions.  I had been coaching a first-time entrepreneur who had started a mattress manufacturing company.  I was able to visit with her one afternoon as she prepared for a trade show.  The show set-up was later that night and she realized that she had made an error in the specs she provided to the father/son team making the custom cases that would display her mattress samples.  She frantically called the team to let them know her dilemma.  They invited the entrepreneur to their workshop and said they would work until the display cases would meet her needs even though that meant working on their day off.  

After two hours at the workshop, the father and son team had fixed the display cases and the entrepreneur and her driver were on their way to the show hall.  I asked the entrepreneur what she told the father and son when the work was complete.  She let them know how much she appreciated their work and their willingness to stop what they were doing in order to fix her mistake.  She told them how important their work was to her success at the trade show.

When people discuss what drives employee engagement, they often talk about recognition and personal accomplishment.  Clearly this first-time entrepreneur applied those principles to the relationships she has formed with her suppliers.  It is paying off with the pride, quality, and extra effort that we desire from the engaged people around us.

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