From the Office Manager's Desk: How to appreciate your vendors

April 10, 2012
Jill Nesbitt
Jill Nesbitt
Jill Nesbitt

Jill Nesbitt is a practice administrator & dental consultant piloting a comprehensive dental staff training program in Nashville after managing a group practice with seven dentists, 20 staff, and 18 operatories for 16 years. Jill has an MBA and writes a weekly blog, www.dentalpracticecoaching.com. Jill is passionate about helping other office managers develop their careers and helping their dentists run successful businesses through her consulting practice.

Issue 4

Do you have some great vendors that support your dental practice? Perhaps your computer technician does a great job coordinating all the technology in the dental office plus he’s saved the day in an emergency once or twice? Has your dental supply vendor rushed an order for you or given you a product out of her own personal stash when you were in a pinch?

Do you have some great vendors that support your dental practice? Perhaps your computer technician does a great job coordinating all the technology in the dental office plus he’s saved the day in an emergency once or twice? Has your dental supply vendor rushed an order for you or given you a product out of her own personal stash when you were in a pinch? If you have some vendors that do a great job for you, you can help them out far beyond just being a great customer.

One of the concepts of the Baldrige principles is to develop long term partnerships with your top vendors. This just makes sense. When you realize you have a top-flight vendor, you want them to work closely with you – and you want to help them to be successful, so they stick around long term!

I am blessed to have some excellent vendors. Here are some of the ways I appreciate them:

1. I tell them, “Thank you!” – loudly and often. I give specific compliments and praise – how many times do you think your computer tech hears a positive comment?

2. I offer to be a testimonial for them. I am happy to write a testimonial they can use in their brochure or on their website – or in one case, in a press release. Recently, as I am realizing the power of video, I offered to do a video testimonial for one of our vendors because I know how powerful that is!

3. I show them the numbers. I track how much I spend on each of my top vendors each year, so I know when they are saving me money year over year. I share these numbers with them so I can show them in black and white how much I appreciate their services. Occasionally, when I have changed vendors, and the new one is a substantial savings over the past, I also show my past numbers so they can see how valuable they are to me.

4. I ask for their opinion. Twice a year through my strategic planning process, I interview my top vendors. In January, I ask a handful of questions about how they feel their year went with us, what recommendations they have, what they are seeing in other offices that we should be aware of, and suggestions that might save us money. In July, I touch base again just to see how things are going. My vendors know that I want to learn from them and they help me by sharing ideas from their perspective and specific industries that I might never find out on my own.

So – who are your really great vendors? Call them up and schedule a meeting. Look at what you’ve spent with these companies and share your numbers. If you appreciate your vendors, you will enjoy stronger relationships, better service and even more value than you ever expected.

Jill Nesbitt is a dental consultant and practicing office manager for a multi-specialty private dental group. Nesbitt has managed the practice for 14 years, has state-level quality training, and coaches dental teams to improve the business-side of their practices.