One of the most challenging aspects to running a management company is keeping relationships in tact with vendor partners. As you have built up your tech stack to meet your growing business needs, you likely have far more vendors than you could list off the top of your head. After all, every department – from accounting to administrative services – has their own set of unique needs, and therefore has their own set of suppliers to fulfill those needs. And as your organization grows, so will your vendor network – it’s the nature of the business.
One of the biggest problems that one can face with a vendor partner is service that doesn’t meet their expectations – and when your service expectations aren’t met, it’s hard to meet your customers’ expectations. When you’re struggling to have your needs met with your vendor partner, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the partner is a bad fit. Oftentimes there are communication gaps that can be easily resolved when each party understands the goals, projects at hand, and ways in which one can be fully aligned.
Creating accountability with your vendor relationship
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Many companies spend money without tracking value, and this certainly is true when working with a vendor partner. In order to better manage your vendor network and your bottom line, you need to create a mutual action plan to hold one another accountable for the achievement of your desired outcome. These outcomes should be at the center of the vendor-supplier relationship.
Let’s say, for instance, you have recently added CINC’s HOAst e-voting platform to your solution. Clearly you are using this service for a purpose – perhaps you want to improve homeowner engagement through survey and polling features, or you need electronic support in achieving quorum. Your Account Success Manager at CINC Systems should know what your goals are with HOAst so that the two of you can strive towards those goals together.
In developing your mutual action plan, the following steps should support you and your vendor partner in achieving your desired outcome:
- First, work together to define and document partnership expectations.
- Next, document your action plan to ensure everyone is working towards a common goal.
- Set clear expectations from the beginning by analyzing previous data related to use cases, adoption, and effectiveness of the vendor’s services; be sure that your vendor partner is providing you with the information you need based on clients of a similar size to your business.
- Track progress towards your goal over time and communicate with your vendor partner on a regular basis so that everyone is aligned on progress.
- Work regularly with your vendor to show proof of performance. Each of you should be able to provide metrics related to project scope, productivity, win rates, or any other metric that supports the desired outcome.
Using this basic mutual action plan outline with each of your vendor relationships will be a win-win across the board. You’re able to have a full picture into the effectiveness of the service you’re being provided, and your vendor partner is able to ensure your success. Your vendor partner should be most excited about working with you on this plan, because if done right, they’ll have a great testimony to add to their website (and who doesn’t love a good customer review!)
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It may seem cumbersome and time consuming to work on a documented plan with each and every vendor within your association management company. However, if you’re going to invest in a service, you need to get the most out of that service. An outcome-based approach will result in deliverables that your customers can see, experience, and enjoy for themselves. The result on your end will be an increase in customer satisfaction, more efficient use of resources, improved productivity, and higher retention rates.