There's no doubt about it, these are uncertain times and the challenges facing many businesses right now are something we've never seen before and hopefully will never see again. Within a matter of weeks, the entire economy is practically locked down and as business owners, we are all likely to have to make some awful decisions to keep our businesses going.
When our clients cease using us, the loss of revenue goes down the chain, and we cut our suppliers. It’s a simple fact, and there is a lot of sympathy for the difficult decisions that have been made. Here are some ways you can treat your suppliers well at the moment and the reasons why you should do this!
Don't ghost your suppliers
This can happen at any time, but at the moment, some clients may think this is acceptable. Don’t ghost anyone. Be clear if you have to cancel a service. Even if it’s a ‘we can’t work together for now, can you call again in six weeks to discuss it?’ is better than being ignored. Businesses who do this because they can’t bear to deliver bad news will lose good suppliers and freelancers.
If you take this approach, there is a likelihood that the supplier or freelancer will make a decision NOT to choose to work with you when things return to normal. Which they will do.
Think about the supplier you're ghosting. They will be wasting time and money in chasing you, that they could put in to driving other business. Be clear about what you can and can't commit to - it could save some working relationships.
Cancel then uncancel
Some businesses have cancelled in a panic, then realised that the service is one that they need to maintain. Before you cancel a supplier, make sure you have an alternative solution in place. In some instances, it might suit both parties to work on a new solution with revised costs and deliverables, but potentially it could have led to a break down of the working relationship.
How to deliver a clean break
If you simply cannot maintain a relationship now, or you've had to pivot your business and it's unlikely you will need the service again, why not maintain a positive relationship and end the business agreement with a phone call. Explain your situation and express your regret at having to cancel. If you were happy with the service, why not offer to write a Facebook, Linked In or Google review? This could help a supplier to win more business in future - it's a simple way to help out right now.
Make sure you utilise the opportunities
If you're in the lucky position of being able to maintain your business right now, you might be fortunate enough to do quite well out of the current situation. Clever, agile businesses will be able to pivot their business to cope with the changing situation (in some, not all cases). If this is you, then now is the time to invest in your business. Got a website that you never upgraded? There will be a team of web designers and copywriters with spaces to deliver your work, so make the most of having this time to get those long-awaited projects done.
Offer genuine partnership
Is there a supplier that you work with and without them, your business would be at risk? If so, then think about how you can help to keep them in business. Cashflow permitting, are you able to keep them on a retainer basis so that they can keep their business going? A smaller amount than you normally pay could make all the difference between them keeping going and having to close permanently. If you can offer a retainer, the supplier has the ability to work off the credit when you're business is ready to go again.
We hope these tips are helpful! If you have made any changes to your supplier relationships, please let us know!