In my previous two blog posts I spoke about the importance of relationships with your vendors and the role they play in your business. In short, you do need to keep strong bonds with them to help grow your business. In this post we will be completing the vendor series by discussing how a loyal relationship with your vendor can actually be the gift that keeps on giving!
How Can a Good Vendor Relationship Benefit Me?
First of all, I want to give you my experience from years ago when I would have several vendors call on me. They would walk into my salon with their bags brimming with new, exciting products. Oh wow, I would wait anxiously like a kid before Christmas while they would unpack their wares. The anticipation was building, my excitement growing. What great, new thing will I just have to have?
Trust me when I say, my vendor sales reps saw me as an easy target… I would try EVERYTHING! I tried new hair products, new nail products, skin care and lash ranges. I didn’t want to miss anything. I wanted the best, and I wanted everything. I ended up with so many partially used products. I wasted thousands of dollars in useless or underperforming products. This was getting expensive to say the least. My salon scrap heap was growing at an alarming rate!
One day, my vendor world came crashing down. Four of my vendor sales reps decided to come visit me at the same time. Can you say AWKWARD? Not to mention, they were expecting my undivided attention. Well, I was busy and couldn’t see any of them. I had my front desk coordinator reschedule appointment times with them and hoped for the best.
Finally, one of my vendor reps gave me an ultimatum. If I were exclusive with them, I would get preferential treatment, new product samples, and a host of other perks. I did spend most of my money with them anyway. So I decided then and there that I would have one rep call on me, and I sent the others away.
I had a blowout sale on the products I retailed from the other vendors and got rid of everything. This gave me a chance to really commit to one source to get all my products from. Every once in awhile I would still try things from other sources, but I did not have any sales reps calling on me.
I would actually go to a storefront to purchase. This way I could pick up a few things I couldn’t live without, but not have sales reps calling on me – putting pressure on me to buy.
Sweetening the Deal
Here are three major ways I benefitted from these changes:
- My sales rep vendor knew I was going to be a loyal customer. No longer having other vendor’s products on my shelves, they were confident that I would be interested in their product lines.
- I received discounts on bundled items, new product samples and giveaways for my clients. These little goodies really helped me grow my retail business. My clients could sample products before a full on purchase. They too were now in a position to spend their dollars more efficiently with less waste and less partially used products cluttering up their space.
- This in turn helped me as a business owner keep control of what was selling and what was a miss. And, when new things came out I would get feedback from my vendor as to whether it was a good purchase for my business and client needs. If I had a client who wasn’t happy with a product, the vendor would happily do a refund or exchange. Now, not all vendors offer such a generous policy, so make sure to do your homework on their policy before your purchase.
A few of the other things I have received in the past were a beach bike, an iPad, tickets to concerts, and scads of free products. Curling irons, blow dryers, lash and brow products, skin care and make up are just a few examples!
The beach bike was used in the grand opening of our salon and spa. We held a raffle and all who attended got a chance to win. The other products mentioned were used as client appreciation gifts and other promotions we did throughout the year.
An Invaluable Lesson
If I hadn’t pledged my allegiance to just one vendor, I wouldn’t have gotten all the goodies from them. Remember, vendors are more than willing to help you grow your business. They are like us; we are willing to go the extra mile for our loyal clients. We give them a little extra on their birthday or when they are having a hard time. Vendors do this as well. They want our loyalty, our support and continued purchases.
The Gift of Education
Vendor loyalty also gives you, in most cases, educational opportunities and training. Many companies will offer continuing education. This is extremely valuable to your business and your staff. Education is imperative to keep your business on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the beauty world.
Social media is very important, YouTube videos are great tutorials, but nothing beats hands on experience and practice. Most vendors have a team of great educators who are passionate about getting their knowledge out there to their clients. Many vendors provide free education and product knowledge classes to their clients. Take advantage of these freebies. You and your staff will be the beneficiaries of resources others may not have the opportunity to receive.
Here’s to a Brighter Future With your Vendor
Let’s take a moment to appreciate all the hard work that goes into giving us service providers the products, tools and education we need to do amazing work – the tools to work more seamlessly in our business and to provide our clients with the aftercare they need to keep our work fresh and beautiful.
As I sit here on a flight home from a busy training week, I am thankful for all that my vendors do for me on a regular basis. When I reach out to contact them, I am greeted with a warm and friendly tone. My questions are answered, my issues resolved and I never feel rushed or unappreciated.
This is exactly why your vendor relationships are so important. They get to know you. They get to know your likes and dislikes. They can recommend things and give you more than you ever expected! So fellow Glad Lash guys and gals – find your home, quit jumping around, and build a successful relationship with your vendors! And please, tell me all about it… We would love to hear from you, in the comments section below, if you have any questions or thoughts you would like to add to the discussion.
Photo by Mark Humphrey – XPerience Factory