A successful project often relies on the timely availability of quality materials. Building a strong rapport with suppliers ensures not only competitive prices but also timely deliveries, reducing project delays. Let’s take a look at some strategies for fostering strong supplier relationships.

Clear and Honest Communication

It would be impossible to build a relationship without communication. It lays a foundation of trust, boosts understanding, and leads to successful problem-solving. But it only works if you are clear and honest with your suppliers. You will also need to practice active listening. Techniques such as restating what you think you heard and asking clarifying questions will help to ensure that you’re both on the same page. And always get everything in writing so that both parties have something to reference if a misunderstanding occurs.

Clearly Defined Responsibilities

At first glance, this one seems easy. You order materials, and the supplier delivers them, right? But it’s actually not that simple. How far in advance do you need to place your order? How are orders affected by holidays and other busy shipping times? What happens if a particular material isn’t available? What if you don’t like a specific item? Lay out contingencies in writing for as many potential hiccups as you can think of.

Mutual Respect

Always show respect for your suppliers’ expertise and business concerns. Empathize with them over supply chain issues and other circumstances beyond their control. And never partner with someone who isn’t equally respectful of your own challenges. When both parties respect each other, you will be in a better position to solve the inevitable problems that will arise.


Lean into technology to enhance your supplier relationships. Automated ordering, online order tracking, and data analytics can go a long way toward creating smoother transactions. There will always be a need for the human touch in building your relationships, but the more tasks you are able to offload to technology, the easier it will be for both you and your suppliers to know what to expect.

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At Great Lakes Skilled Trades, we specialize in connecting contractors with professionals in the skilled trades throughout the Great Lakes region. If you need a skilled tradesperson, learn more about our services and contact us today!

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