WHY IS CHANGING VENDORS SO STRESS INDUCING
A property manager recently told me that he would prefer to have a tooth pulled rather than changing cleaning service providers because the change affects everyone in the company and the transition can take months to get through, which results in complaints from staff and big headaches for him. The same pain of changing vendors applies to suppliers of other products and services as well, so bringing in a new vendor needs to be very carefully considered. In fact dropping a vendor and replacing it with a new one has been likened to the break-up of a relationship – because that is exactly what it is, and for that reason it is appropriate to ask – is the new company more “your type,” or just basically the same old company with a different name? That brings up the more basic question of whether a change really needs to be made at all. Here are some things to think about:
What do you like & dislike about your current vendor? Cost? Quality? Customer service? Ease and availability of communicating?
Is the issue with your company rep, or with the company itself?
Is there a way to salvage the business relationship through constructive feedback or do you really need to move on?
Can this new vendor scale with you as your company grows?
What are your expectations for the new vendor and do you have reason to believe they can meet them?
So check references, research and read reviews, inquire about a trial period if that is a viable option from your perspective, and most importantly get to know the new people you will be working with.
So you have decided to jump ship and move on; how does one go about initiating the change? Going back to the relationship analogy – again because it is a relationship:
You can give the supplier the “it’s not you, it’s me” message.
We have decided to go in a different direction.
Our budget is in transition.
However be honest and helpful at the same time. The old vendor may learn from the experience and become a valued partner in the future. So don’t burn bridges that may be useful down the road.
ALLEVIATING THE PAIN OF CHANGING VENDORS
How can this pain be minimized? We have learned that the following processes make the start-up much easier and smoother for everyone:
One on one training. We have found that bringing in extra trainers so that each new worker has a personal trainer to work with makes a huge difference. Trainees rate the effectiveness of their training and we are constantly looking for ways to improve the training.
Communication – internal. If everyone on the team knows the scope of work and the hot buttons for that client this eliminates multiple problems during the first weeks and months of the service agreement.
Communication – external. Staying in touch with clients including daytime site visits by management, QA inspections sent both to clients and our management team, and always being available via phone, email, text, or by any other means.
New workers are trained, checked and provided constructive feedback until we are confident in their stability. This along with our quality control program lead to consistency and customer loyalty.
We have ongoing proactive communication with the client and we will schedule a walk-through with the new client in order to get feedback on how we are doing and to iron out any minor wrinkles if any that may not have been completely smoothed out by that point.
As time goes by we will schedule customer visits at a frequency desired by the contact person – we find that this varies greatly and we will work with the client to reach a balance between the extremes of being a pest and failing to stay in touch.
Our goal at Choice Services is to maintain long-term partnership with clients and we have been able to achieve that goal through good communication and consistent pro-active attention to quality assurance through the years.