Is It Time to Confront an Underperforming Vendor?

It’s hard to miss when you have a bad vendor. They’ve caused irreparable damage to a project and might need to be cut loose. But how do you have this conversation with the vendor and stay professional? In an article for ZDNet, Mary Shacklett explains the steps you should take before having that confrontational meeting with a poor vendor.

Steps to Stop Bad Vendors

With poor vendors, awful service isn’t usually a big bang occurrence; rather, the business relationship deteriorates gradually. Maybe the point of contact changed to someone less skilled, or their update doesn’t mesh well with your products. In any case, Shacklett says it is important to—in the beginning—allow some time to pass in the new arrangement, to wait and see if things work out.

If things don’t work out, then it is time to approach step two. Talk with the account rep and vendor services to see if things can be smoothed out that way. If not, escalate the conversation to the vendor contact’s immediate supervisor. This could tick off your rep, but the supervisor may be able to push forward real progress. If this still isn’t getting things moving, it may be time to talk to someone at the director or executive level of the vendor.

If none of that works, it is time to call what Shacklett refers to as “the Big Meeting.” This is the do-or-die moment for you and the vendor, so it’s best to give yourself the edge by having it at your home turf. You should be ready to drop the vendor after the meeting, should it go south. Shacklett has this to say about the meeting itself:

You should let the vendor know in advance what the meeting purpose and agenda are, so the vendor can also be fully prepared. Also be sure to schedule this meeting on your own turf. This can give you an important psychological edge because it helps to be in familiar surroundings.

Take charge of your meeting and set an objective and businesslike tone. Your goals should be to review evidence of poor performance, not to point fingers or get into battles of high emotion. To support this approach, you should have documentation of all your failed service calls and issues that you can go through with the vendor.

After the meeting there should be a follow-up to have both parties agree on the new course of action. Sometimes the relationship will survive, and other times it’s best to let it unravel. The point is to do what’s best for your company.

You can view the original article here:

Austin J. Gruver

Austin is a Staff Writer for AITS. He has a background in professional writing from York College.

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