Solid external relationships with growers and suppliers are just as essential as good relationships within your company.

Like the three musketeers, growers, retailers and suppliers need each other. If each business had to do it all alone, profitability would tank and the horticulture industry would wither away. While external relationships greatly impact the success of your business, in today’s busy, high-tech world, it’s easy to get lulled into taking things and people for granted.

Here are seven simple tips for fostering “all for one, one for all” rock-solid relationships between growers, retailers and suppliers:

1. Always treat others with courtesy and kindness. While this seems to go without saying, it’s important to remember. The key word here is ALWAYS. Courtesy and kindness should be par for the course even when there’s a problem or conflict. Hostile, angry or critical behaviors can fracture relationships and will be remembered by the receiving party long after the problem is resolved.

2. Communicate clearly, quickly and in writing. Communicate expectations clearly and promptly put agreements into writing. Whether you or the other party generates the written communication, review emails and contracts carefully to ensure mutual understanding and accuracy.

It’s also imperative to communicate when problems arise as they invariably will. The worst thing you can do is naively ignore something in the hope it will magically resolve itself. If you let things build up, they will inevitably blow up. It’s far easier to have an honest conversation than to deal with the aftermath of what might be irreparable damage.

3. Plan ahead. While they may not tell you, making or changing an order at the last-minute can cause a great deal of frustration and destroy the profit margin of a supplier. Do it once and they will probably be happy to accommodate you, especially if you offer to pay a rush or change order fee. Do it repeatedly and you can quickly destroy the relationship.

4. Respond quickly. Whether it’s a grower or a supplier, the quicker you respond when they reach out, the better. Even if it’s only to say, “We don’t need anything at this time. Please check back in two weeks.” When you and your team respond quickly to external partners, you will be viewed far more positively than a company that lets communications lag.

5. Pay promptly. Forcing a vendor to chase down a payment or to wait to be compensated past the due date destroys trust and quickly ruins a relationship. It may also jeopardize the very existence of their business if they are unable to pay their bills because you haven’t paid yours.

6. Express appreciation. Catch the people who service your business doing things right and let them know you’ve noticed. It’s easy to focus on problems than to focus on praise when the pressure is on. When good work is appreciated and recognized, growers, retailers and suppliers are motivated to do more good work.

7. Value the person beyond the services and goods they buy or supply. Show interest and concern for the individuals who help make your business a success. Take time get to know what’s important to them beyond the services they provide your business.

Whether you realize it or not, your business is in the relationship business. Treat external relationships with the same care and respect you desire and deserve, and they will be there for you through thick and thin. Who wouldn’t want to do business and exceed expectations with as great a partner as you?

Sherene is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach who demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. / 989-621-3763