The Academy

10 Tips to Effectively Manage Vendors and Suppliers

Continued from last week

8. Pay On Time

Your supplier does a job and should be compensated for it. Consider the last time a customer was late paying you. Even if they had told you the check would be a few days late, consider the slight annoyance you felt at having to wait, and the relief you felt when the check finally arrived. Paying your vendors on time demonstrates that you respect them and the work they do.

9. Stay Flexible

This is different than planning for disasters or setbacks in your production schedule. Staying flexible means adapting to everyday issues that arise.

10. Continuously Work on Strengthening Your Relationship

Look for opportunities outside of general day-to-day contact. If you have a quarterly meeting or invite your suppliers to come and visit your facility, make sure to spend time with them and forge stronger bonds. Ask your suppliers for feedback. Encourage them to have open discussions with you about ways that the relationship could work better or more efficiently. Supplier relationships are partnerships and as such, are also a two-way street.

Forming long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers will aid you in keeping your manufacturing schedule on time and ensure that you make and sell quality products. These reasons are important enough to make sure that you manage your supplier relationships well.

To learn more about how to work with suppliers, read our article on how to negotiate the best deal with your suppliers.

Culled from quickbooks.intuit and adapted



10 Tips to Effectively Manage Vendors and Suppliers

For sometime now, Valerie Ubaka has been having sleepless nights over how to deal with her vendors and suppliers.
She has a bakery and she depends on third parties for the supply of a number of ingredients to guarantee quality, timely delivery and the maintenance of her equipment.

Lately, they have let her down so badly; she finally caught up with a friend who shared the following tips with her:

1. Choose Wisely

If you have the luxury of choosing from multiple suppliers, take the time to examine each one’s pros and cons. Determine which one can give you what you need, when you need it and for the right price. Evaluate everything from their response time to their contract terms to their costs. Relationships are most successful if they have the time to grow, so you want to select a supplier that you and your organization will be able to grow with.


2. Communicate

The easiest way to engender ill-will in any relationship is by a lack of communication. Take the time to communicate with your suppliers and ask for the same type of outreach in return. This is especially important regarding timelines. If a project timeline changes, your supplier should be one of the first people to know. An earlier alert keeps them in the loop and could make a mutually agreed upon solution possible. Your supplier should be able to problem-solve and troubleshoot issues pertaining to material quality and delivery, so use these traits to your advantage when you’re facing difficulties. Also, remember to not use communication as a way to test your suppliers. If you need them to meet a specific date, explicitly tell them. Don’t ask them to guess or read your mind and then be surprised when they can’t.


3. Understand Their Business

While you don’t need to necessarily understand every nuance about a supplier’s business model or operating procedures, having a general working knowledge of their policies will help you to better understand their values. It will also give you context to the challenges they face, which is especially important if you work in a business with shifting priorities and deadlines that requires a great amount of flexibility. If you understand why a supplier might say “no”, it makes it much easier to plan ahead.

4. Plan for Contingencies

There are normal everyday contingencies you should plan for, like late shipments or weather-ruined pallets. There are also major disruptions to plan for, like natural disasters or critical equipment failure. Most of these contingencies will probably be developed in-house, but you should make a concession for your suppliers and make sure they have a clear understanding of how you will expect them to behave should the unthinkable happen.


5. Put as Much Thought Into Rewards as Penalties

Penalties are there for those times when someone does not hold up his or her end of the deal. With that in mind, there should also be a reward for when work is above and beyond expectations. Thinking about worst-case scenarios is important, but also assume that suppliers will exceed your expectations, and that they should be rewarded when they do. A reward could be an especially prompt payment or a simple “Thank You” note.


6. Accept Accountability

Both the client and the supplier are responsible for the success or failure of the working relationship. Accept accountability for your place in the process by acknowledging that your decisions, delayed timing or changes in project scope directly impact the supplier’s ability to do his or her job well.

7. Invest in Supplier Management Software

This is really to preserve your sanity or the sanity of your office manager. Supplier relationship management (SRM) software is especially important as the number of suppliers you work with grows. It can be used to monitor supplier performance and keep all of your supplier details in one place. Many SRM programs also interface with accounting software, making for a seamless invoicing experience.

8. Pay On Time

Your supplier does a job and should be compensated for it. Consider the last time a customer was late paying you. Even if they had told you the check would be a few days late, consider the slight annoyance you felt at having to wait, and the relief you felt when the check finally arrived. Paying your vendors on time demonstrates that you respect them and the work they do.


9. Stay Flexible

This is different than planning for disasters or setbacks in your production schedule. Staying flexible means adapting to everyday issues that arise.

10. Continuously Work on Strengthening Your Relationship

Look for opportunities outside of general day-to-day contact. If you have a quarterly meeting or invite your suppliers to come and visit your facility, make sure to spend time with them and forge stronger bonds. Ask your suppliers for feedback. Encourage them to have open discussions with you about ways that the relationship could work better or more efficiently. Supplier relationships are partnerships and as such, are also a two-way street.

Forming long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers will aid you in keeping your manufacturing schedule on time and ensure that you make and sell quality products. These reasons are important enough to make sure that you manage your supplier relationships well.

To learn more about how to work with suppliers, read our article on how to negotiate the best deal with your suppliers.

Culled from quickbooks.intuit and adapted



Six Dependable Tips For Product Packaging

There’s a common saying that the difference between “pure water” and bottled water is packaging. Although this saying is exaggerated, it highlights the difference that packaging can bring to a product.

Mohammed Tanimu has been making kilishi for over five years -- cutting up slabs of beef into flat wafers of stick and dousing the meat with pepper over a pot of coal. That was the way those before him prepared kilishi and that is the tradition he has maintained.

But when he heard of a group of young men putting kilishi on the shelf of leading supermarkets in the country and even preparing to export the product, he decided it was time to learn a bit more about how to do his business differently. 

In his quest for innovative packaging, he found this piece of advice very useful: Most consumers make decisions on which products to buy purely based on instinct. Eye-tracking studies show that consumers read, on average, only seven words in an entire shopping trip, which means they are, instead, buying instinctively by color, shape and familiarity of location. 

Below are six secrets to create successful packaging that will catch the eye of the shopper:

1. The Five-Year-Old Test

If you can describe your brand to a five-year-old, send them into a store to find it, and have them actually pick out the product, your brand package has created an iconic connection. The key to this iconic connection is to have a distinctive brand mark that will keep consumers coming back and looking for it every time they are at the store. For example, if you ask a child to find the blue package with a black and white cookie and a glass of milk, they will come back with Oreos.

2. Show Your Lighter Side

Elements of wit and humor create emotional connections with consumers and break through the industry clutter. When Redhook beer revamped their packaging, they created a series of label headlines that used their distinctive brand voice to describe each flavor. Their Long Hammer IPA is “a big fan of dry hopping, which sounds much dirtier than it is,” and their Copper Hook “thinks gold and silver are way overrated.”

3. Opt For A Throwback

Whether it’s posting a throwback photo on Instagram or watching your favorite NFL team play in their old-school jerseys, our culture loves bringing back a classic look. The same is true for brands and their packaging. Many companies are bringing back classic designs and flavors to create a sense of nostalgia and remind consumers why they first fell in love with a brand. It’s about recreating an emotional connection and building a bridge to the evolution of the brand.

4. Establish Authentic Partnerships

After many brands loosely incorporated the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon to their products, consumers began to criticize brands that were falsely advertising partnerships with causes. If your brand is considering partnering with a charitable organization, your company should be completely committed and the cause should align closely with your overall brand.

5. Pick Appealing Colors

Color is one of the most important elements when it comes to designing your packaging. Color can make your design pop and give it a unified appearance. Take the time to pick out the best colors for your product, and keep in mind of your brand and target audience.

6. Design With Your Store In Mind

It is important to keep in mind where your product is going to be sold. For example, if you’re designing a package that will need to be displayed in the freezer section of the grocery store, think about how the doors could obscure your design. When designing your product packaging, consider the obstructions, layout and other elements that will influence how consumers see your product on the shelf.

Effective packaging helps consumers understand at a glance who, what and why the product is relevant in their life. 


Culled from imagine-express.com and adapted.



Useful Tips on How To Boost End-Of-Year Sales With Social Media – Part 2

Continued from last week

Step No. 3: Connect

Friend, follow or connect with individuals with profiles that match your clients’. How do you do this? Conduct a search on each social networking website or use a resource to find people who are talking about your industry or using related keywords. Then comment on their posts, re-tweet them, answer a question or share something they say. By contributing to their conversation, you add value to their network. Then it becomes natural for you to follow them and for them to follow you back. Once you connect, don’t immediately bombard them with pitches. Instead, read their profiles, get to know them and identify their needs.

Step No. 4: Build relationships

The most important thing salespeople need to know is that they need to develop relationships more than they need to develop leads, because good relationships will turn into leads. People share a lot of information, and if you monitor and listen to what they are saying, you will eventually be able to engage in a meaningful conversation with them. Once you develop a relationship, you can tell the prospect how your product or service might be something they want or need.

Step No. 5: Engage in a conversation

If you just write them a message with a pitch and a link to your website, they will be uninterested. If you say, ‘Here are some solutions to your problem, maybe my product or service can help,’ they will know you care about them. If you really listen to what they are saying on social media, you can open doors and start a conversation without having to make a cold call. Other ways to do this: Create a Facebook group related to your product or service and invite prospects to join. Then, send targeted messages to members who are active within the group. Join the groups that your clients are members of on LinkedIn, as well. Engage in conversation there by answering questions that are asked and showcasing your expertise at problem solving in a specific area.

Twitter also offers opportunities to initiate dialogues. Although Twitter should be used as a listening tool, you can still engage in a conversation on the site. Listen to your prospects’ tweets and use them as trigger points to start a conversation on a business development call. Look for trends in their tweets. Are they launching new products? Buying new companies? Expanding to a new market? If any of those announcements could be a trigger for something you sell, call your prospect and mention that you saw the tweet. Ask them how it’s affecting their business and see if they would be interested in starting a conversation about how you can help.

If you share good content with your social networks, it can spread easily, increasing your visibility with new leads. A salesperson can also give better service when paying attention to customers online. And that can result in loyal customers for life.

Culled and adapted from Forbes.



Useful Tips On How To Boost End-Of-Year Sales With Social Media

As the year winds down, many business owners and managers are thinking of how to cash in on end-of-year sales. Edem Kodjo is not an exception. An “old school” folk, he used posters, handbills and word-of-mouth to announce his end-of-year sales promotions in his shoe boutique in the last few years.

His success has been largely limited as local government council regulations about cleaner environment have reduced where he can paste his posters or share his handbills. He has also recently noticed that young customers who are his target are increasingly migrating to the social media. 

Before launching his sales promotion campaign this year, Edem spoke with a friend, who shared with him an advice he had read in a special publication online: 

 Social media allows salespeople to see what prospects are saying about their brand and competitors. You can really get to know a customer’s needs through social listening. It’s a great way to research a market and initiate conversation leading to a sale, regular or end-of-year.

Not only can social listening help you generate new leads, but it also allows you to build deeper relationships with existing clients that drives them to purchase again and again.

The biggest sales have come from salespeople using Twitter to find opportunities and LinkedIn to find the names of the true buyers inside organizations.

Facebook and blog platforms have proven to be essential for salespeople, as well.

Someone selling digital scrapbooking software and supplies, for example, can connect with his or her customers on Facebook and through a blog where they can share project ideas and digital photo advice. 

So how can you use social media to make sales, especially this end-of-year?

Step No. 1: Determine the best way to connect with prospects

Social media is a smart selling tool only if your clients and prospects are using social media. It’s a huge waste of your time if your clients are spending their time elsewhere.

But if you learn they are indeed using popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you need to determine which space is best for connecting and interacting with them.

Facebook is one of the best arenas for business to consumer sales.

It’s also important for brands to consider tools like Instagram and Pinterest along with their Facebook strategy to increase visibility and sales. LinkedIn is the appropriate platform for sales of business-to-business products or services. LinkedIn is a more professional networking environment, so this is the right place to connect with people at big corporations that might be interested in your product or service.

Step No. 2: Join a community and create a persona

It starts by spending some time with the tool you plan to use. Build up a personal account, have conversations, and become acquainted with the norms and expectations of the community.

Without misrepresenting yourself, create a persona that’s likable and trustworthy within that community. If I think you’re a jerk when I see you on a social media site, I’m not going to do business with you. If you comment a lot to get people to go to your site, I’m not going to listen to you. You can’t abuse or misuse social media.

Show your network that you’re an amiable, trustworthy resource.




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