Whether it’s for supplies, equipment, technology or all of the above, vendors likely play a big role in your practice management and growth plans. You may have several different vendors you work with, so making the most out of each relationship while running your practice can be tricky. Likewise, your vendors are splitting their time with many other clients, making it even more difficult to build strong relationships.
It’s still important to create these strong relationships though, as this will mutually benefit both parties. You can ensure you’re getting the right supplies, equipment, etc. you need to successfully run your practice in a timely manner and for the right cost. In return, your vendors get increased business and referrals.
Even with a busy schedule, here are some things you can do on your end for building strong vendor relationships:
Identify What You Want (And What You Don’t Want)
When reviewing vendors, decide upfront your must-haves, whether it be excellent customer service, timeliness, dependability, specific cost, etc. Also look for red flags or warning signs that may be problematic for getting what you want, such as bad reviews citing communication issues, contract problems, etc. You may not have time to do extensive due diligence on every single vendor for every service or supply, so spend more diligence time on vendors that will provide a more complex service/product with a high impact on your practice – for example, a practice management system or an EHR. Understand the full impact, as well as any compliance risk, it will have on your operations.
Set Expectations Early On
Use the pre-contract phase as a chance to lay the right groundwork for your relationship. This gives you an opportunity to explain what your expectations are and the vendor an opportunity to detail their plan of meeting them. Before this discussion, make a list of your key expectations so you can be completely upfront.
Make the Most of Your Time
You’re busy running a business and taking care of patients. Your vendors are busy meeting the needs of many different clients. So the time you have to communicate and build a good working relationship may be limited. Make the best use of this time by fully preparing for meetings and continually evaluating/understanding your standing with vendors. If they’re not living up to the expectations you previously set, speak up and let them know. In many cases, this conversation can resolve the issue, set your relationship back on track and avoid drawn-out problems. But if problems continue, stay knowledgeable on your contract options for terminating service or resolving disputes. Hopefully that won’t be needed, but if you do need to terminate your relationship, you should know what penalties or issues you might face.
No matter the size of your practice, using best practices with your vendor relationships will benefit everyone involved.
Need additional support with building strong vendor relationships? We’re always a phone call or click away to help. Schedule a consultation with one of our practice management experts today!