If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again — as far as vendors go, that is. This isn’t to say you should ever take transitioning to a new vendor lightly. It takes thorough and thoughtful planning and preparation to change vendors smoothly. But you should also not stick with a bad deal to avoid the time and costs often associated with making a move. In fact, if the vendor’s that you are looking to switch to are making the switching process inefficient, costly, or time-consuming, you’re probably looking at the wrong ones.
A good vendor should live up to the word – not hide behind them. As with any decision, take time to talk with those around you (even if you’re the sole decision maker) to rationalize, reason, and find legitimate ways to justify the switch. And always remember – the goal is never to switch for the sake of switching. It’s to get as close as you can to your “ideal situation”. If a vendor is going to simply pose a myriad of other risks and issues, don’t make the change.
How to Change Vendors Smoothly
But what do you do when you finally find a vendor that appears to have all the qualities you are looking for? How do you change vendors smoothly? While you may have the presumption that it’s too good to be true, this is not always the case. Just like personal relationships, certain business relationships work between two parties better than other pairings. Once you finally decide to switch vendors, it becomes all about capturing the potential value and mitigating any risk with the change. The following should be considered to ensure the smoothest transition possible.
With any transition, work towards a timely and complete transfer of knowledge about your business in relation to shipping and logistics from the current vendor to the new one. Detailing how the parties will accomplish this transfer will help, but you’ll also want to establish checkpoints and criteria for measurement to determine whether the transition process is a thorough one. This is also a great way to hold your vendor accountable for their behavior. Making a change without measuring the potential risks you assume with a new business relationship is a mistake that all-too-many businesses fall prey to.
Secondly, gathering knowledge has to happen on both ends of the business relationship. Just like you need to know that your new vendor can handle your requests, they need to know what issues you have faced or overcome with your past vendors. These transparent conversations help to disclose whether or not your new vendor will be able to handle your needs and requests, as well as better prepare both of you for the upcoming season of business. If you want to change vendors smoothly, it takes careful attention to detail and clear communication.
Every client relationship is different. Some businesses are looking to squeeze as many dollars out of their vendor as possible despite transit time and communication discrepancies; and for some businesses, this is just fine! After all, if your company is on top of planning months in advance, this may be your best method of managing your projects. However, other businesses prefer forking out the extra cash it takes to get a vendor that is thorough, has great communication, and is always willing to be flexible in their processes.
Little do most people know – the frustrations you experience from your current vendor may be due to a lack of expectation communications in the beginning processes of setting up the relationship; but now it’s too late. Disclose all of your expectations and concerns to your vendor to better prepare you for a successful business relationship. Ensure that they understand what is most important to you in a vendor.
Secure All Service-Related Documentation
Get copies of any document used by the current vendor in providing its services. These documents may include: POA, 7501, credit application, cargo insurance policy, copies of custom reports and procedures manuals, and information on any of your systems. This ties hand-in-hand with the “Gather Knowledge” stage of making a transition. Better prepare both sides of the relationship by ensuring your new vendor has all the files they need to reference your past vendor experiences and provide you with the most valuable services they can give.
Part of the headache of switching vendors that so many businesses experience is due to the issue of starting from scratch. You can’t switch vendors and expect anything different without giving your new vendor all the necessary information they need to be successful. So many businesses are scared of switching because they have been burned by this in the past.
Take the time to prepare yourself for a switch – It really isn’t that much work upfront, but your extra efforts will make the transition significantly easier and more efficient than it would otherwise be.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Because no two vendors will ever be alike, the transition from one vendor to another will always be different, with its own set of unique issues based on the agreement, the services, and the business. Just remember that your ultimate goal is to change vendors smoothly – as smoothly as possible.
If you’d like to learn more about how to change vendors smoothly, or to discuss our services, the team at Interlog USA is more than happy to answer your questions.