Treat your suppliers like Gold.

We all know about how important it is to treat our customers like gold, but what about our vendors and suppliers? Gone are the days when we could pull out that old capitalist golden rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules.” That just does not work any longer, not to mention it has always been counter-productive at best and completely off-putting at worst.

It is best to follow the original golden rule, “Do unto others as they would have them do unto you.” This has always worked, and, in the current PCB supply chain, it is more important now than ever.

Let us start with the fact that there are too few vendors.  When I started in this business, we were the world leaders when it came to the PCB industry, and we had a plethora of great suppliers. We had our pick of who we wanted to work with and those we avoided. This was especially true in my own Chicagoland area. However, just like the PCB manufacturer, suppliers fled overseas, leaving very few options today.

More than ever, we need to look for good suppliers and ensure that we establish a partnership.

Another factor that makes our relationships with our suppliers so important is that we need their technical and engineering help. Where once our companies were filled with good and capable technical and quality people, that is not the case today. Relying on our suppliers is the way for us to properly utilize their expert technology. This relationship with the supplier is key to assist us with the correct material selection, or, in many cases, an appropriate substitution.  Materials have become so specialized that we rely on their expertise more than ever.

Our equipment suppliers are just as important. Once upon a time we had in house staff that could maintain and repair our equipment–that is no longer the case. We often need to arrange service contracts with the equipment manufacturers, or a qualified repair service organization fix and maintain our machines.

Our reliance on our suppliers is a fact of life, but the good news is that most of the ones we have out there today are well versed and confident in their ability to assist us. 

Here are three simple rules to establish the best relationship with your suppliers as possible.

  1. Trust: Develop this type of relationship with all of them. Be willing to tell them about your business, trust them with you projects and allow them to find the right solutions for a successful build.
  2. Honesty: Be open with your suppliers. Do not be afraid to ask for their help and opinions.
  3. Send them leads! With so few suppliers left today you want to make sure that your good suppliers stick around, and the best way to do that is to help them succeed, as well. Always make them part of your success stories.