By Jim Annis
Ah, Valentine’s Day is in the air. Romance, proposals, new flirtations and sometimes … the inevitable big breakup. Well, nothing lasts forever, so that’s why it’s good to have some guidance on how to manage situations when they go south. Aside from a longtime personal love, breaking up with a long-term business vendor is often of the most painful and uncomfortable breakups you can experience. There are many “types” of vendor relationships: love at first sight, those you trust enough to “marry,” and the ones you divorce; and then there are the ones who are “married” to your business family so you would feel horribly guilty about letting them go. So why is breaking up so hard to do?
The “how do we work with each other?” phase is over, things are easy … maybe too easy. Perhaps you have been lax about keeping track of your vendor performance and accountability. Remember, any long-term relationship takes work. Comfortable is OK, but there is a slippery slope that occurs when complacency takes the guise of comfort. Each year my wife makes me meatloaf with ketchup and mashed potatoes for Valentine’s Day. She has done this for each year together for 35 years. It is her way of saying “I love you,” and I simply adore it and her for the effort. How has your vendor pool said “I love you” lately? Do they provide great operational performance? Do they anticipate your needs? Do they listen to your concerns? Do they approach your relationship as a true partnership? If they have not, it might be time to look for someone new with stars in their eyes and common values.