November is the month many of us take a moment to give thanks. We often tend to focus on things like our health and happiness and overlook the simple things that make our lives easier. As an art director at Kolbeco, I’d like to take a moment to focus on something I give thanks often – our amazing vendors.

I have worked with some great vendors, and some less so over the years. As I’m sure many of you can also attest to, not all vendors are created equal. While it might not be fun in the moment to deal with bad vendors, I am also thankful for those experiences which have enabled me to seek out the best companies to partner with over the years. Over the years I have assembled my “Rockstar” team of reliable vendors.

So, here are my tips on how to create mutually beneficial vendor relationships.

Build an Honest Relationship

I prefer to have open an honest dialog with the vendors I work with. After all, they are an extended part of my team. If I have been offered a “cheaper price”, I allow my vendor the opportunity to match it, or explain to me why their price is different. In some cases, you may be sacrificing quality and the higher cost is worth it. I also share the bids and am transparent which fosters trust – a key to any strong relationship.

Be Empathetic

It pains me to extend “client pressure” onto folks who will also have to incur a fast turnaround. We all need to have empathy for the vendors, value the quality of work, time and effort each vendor puts in helps soften the blow when we are pressed for a tight deadline. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to rush a flyer through, and one way to make the ask easier is to have empathy for those getting the job done.

Visit Your Vendors

If you are supporting local shops, make time to go see them. Take a tour and let them tell you about what they do. You will gain more perspective on the work they do for you and understand their processes better. (The next time you ask for an impossible deadline, you will get the hoops they jump through for you).

Be Appreciative

Seems like an easy one, but honest appreciation for a job well-done goes a long way.

Own Up to Mistakes

It happens to the best of us. You discover a typo post product production. You realize you are one sign short. Whatever it is, a mistake puts pressure on to correct the problem. So own it! We are all human; rather than brush the issue under the rug or try to manipulate blame…earn your oops. You will gain better treatment and open up more possibilities for a cheaper re-do.

Taking the time to get to know my vendors has been very rewarding. Not only do I value the work we accomplish together, but I enjoy the relationships I’ve built and for that I am very thankful.

Article written by

art director/design master/dog whisperer