December 29, 2012 by Kimmo Linkama
Are you a client your supplier can trust?
You’ve probably most often thought about trust in business in the opposite way: is my supplier someone I can trust? But have you ever come to think about how important it is for you as a buyer to be trustworthy in the eyes of your supplier?
In some business deals the trust is secured by written agreements many pages long stating the responsibilities of both parties in great detail. If you’re buying production machinery for your manufacturing plant, it might be the exact specs of the equipment, the deadline for offers, the various steps of designing, producing and delivering the equipment, who needs to do what and when in order for the next step in the process to be possible, how payments are scheduled, warranty terms and so on. Without exception, such agreements also include clauses stipulating what will happen if one of the parties to the deal does not fulfil its obligations.
There are also many business deals that are agreed upon without extensive paperwork or involving lawyers, especially in the creative industry.
Let’s say you want to update the content of your website. You give a brief to a shortlist of creatives, receive their estimates, choose your preferred partner, agree on the deadline and it’s off to the races.
Sounds simple. In most cases, it doesn’t need to be any more complicated, either.
Business is always a two-way street. Whether the deal is based on a written contract or not, both parties are supposed—even legally required—to deliver what they promised. The supplier, in this case the creatives, commit to delivering what was agreed by the time agreed. It is your job as the other party to take care that your responsibilities are also fulfilled: provide the agreed information by the time it’s needed, take care of timely commenting and approvals, pay by the due date.
It is easy for clients to think they live in a constant buyer’s market. True, there’s no shortage of willing contractors to do the job, especially if you’re dealing with content farms. On the other hand, when you’re dealing with professionals, the contractors also make choices. And just like buyers compare experiences and talk about the pluses and minuses of suppliers, the creatives meet and talk about their clients.
It’s your choice, of course, whether you want to come up in these discussions as someone with whom things run smoothly, who does their best to move the projects forward and who pays in time, or as someone who everybody knows will delay progress, always pay late and whose phone calls people would rather leave unanswered.
Which of these two types of clients do you think gets better results? Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you.
If you want to know how it ideally goes, read an earlier story, In Business, Fall in Love.
Then get back here and let me know if you think there’s any sense in this trust thing. Agreed?